The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) announced a prayer initiative, which will start on January 30, to mark the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar.
“As we prepare to mark the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar … we ask God to move the hearts of all those who can put a stop to this tragedy,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN executive president.
He also called for prayers for all the internally displaced, including children, women, the elderly and sick in the country.
“There are hundreds of thousands of them, and many struggling to survive from day to day. There are countless testimonies of suffering,” said Heine-Geldern.
Pope Francis earlier this week also called for prayers for Myanmar where an old Catholic church was burned and destroyed this month.
“I am close to the helpless civilian population subject to severe trials in many cities,” said Pope Francis after the recitation of the Angelus prayer on January 22.
In his statement, Heine-Geldern said it is “heart-breaking” to hear of people stranded by the side of the road, “who don’t know where to go because they have spent the past year-and-a-half without finding a safe-haven.”
ACN also asked for prayers “for those who accompany the faithful in their flight, to provide them with pastoral and sacramental support.”
The organization said the presence of the Church in Myanmar provides people hope, “but we need to pray especially for the priests, religious and catechists, as they are subject to enormous psychological and physical stress.”
“Let’s not leave them alone, we ask God to support them all so that they can carry on their mission of love and sacrifice for the people, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, or origin,” said Heine-Geldern in his statement.
ACN said some of the most affected areas by the conflict include the states of Chin, Kayah and Karen, which have a considerable Christian population.
At least 16 parishes have been abandoned, 19 churches and religious buildings destroyed in the state of Kayah,” according to ACN.
“These places have witnessed atrocities and direct violence, in others the Church is helping, despite serious risks, to deal with this increasingly large number of internally displaced, lacking even the most basic amenities required to survive,” it added.
“Let us also pray for respect for life and the inviolability of places of worship,” said Heine-Geldern, adding that churches, chapels and religious houses have been destroyed, burned, or bombed.
“We know of sacred places that have been desecrated. Each house, monastery, temple or church the regime bombs or burns means an attack on the identity and cohesion of the community,” he added.
ACN said that by July 2022, about one-third of the 130 religious buildings destroyed by the military junta since the coup were Buddhist monasteries or pagodas.
“Let us pray for an end to violence and a return to dialogue, which would be a considerable source of strength for the future of Myanmar,” said the ACN statement.