ASIA/MYANMAR - One thousand young people confirmed as civil conflict worsens

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 sacraments  

Myitkyina (Agenzia Fides) - The Lord confirms them in faith, which will help them live through the hardship, precariousness and suffering around them. A total of 1,173 young people have received the Sacrament of Confirmation in recent days in the diocese of Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State in northern Myanmar. It was Cardinal Charles Maung Bo who administered the Sacrament and gave a light slap to each confirmed, according to the rite: "This means being willing to suffer for the faith and face the insults and wounds of others", he remarked. With confirmation, said the Cardinal, the baptized person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit: "Today the Lord strengthens your mission to bear witness to Christ", even in situations of trial and suffering, he underlined.
As reported by Msgr. Peter Hka Awng Lei, Vicar General of the diocese of Myitkyina, 209 young people received their confirmation in the Queen of Ciali parish in Tanghpre; 207 are from St. Dominic's Church in Namti Myo Oo; 215 belong to St. Francis Xavier Church, and 112 to St. Joseph Church, both in Moe Nying Parish; 185 are from St. Michael Community in Myotit Gyi Parish; and 245 are from Heart of Jesus Church in Pa La Na. In the diocese of Myitkyina, out of a total population of about 2.5 million inhabitants, there are about 90 thousand Catholics, divided into 32 parishes.
The celebration of the faith, in the season of Lent, and the pastoral accompaniment of young people are proceeding despite the serious difficulties experienced by the Burmese Catholic community, immersed, like the entire population, in the internal conflict that is worsening day by day.
The United Nations has reported a new outbreak of armed confrontation between the army and "People's Defense Forces" rebel groups, especially in the (predominantly Christian) state of Kayah, bordering Thailand. At least 3,000 people have fled their homes since March 10, when fighting also increased in number and intensity near the city of Loikaw, capital of Kayah state.
In the diocese of Loikaw, several churches and convents are currently being used as camps for internally displaced persons. As local Fides sources report, as fighting continues, more than 150,000 civilians have been forced to seek refuge in churches, makeshift refugee camps or in the jungle.
Last December, the UN Security Council, through a resolution, called on the military to end the violence and allow humanitarian assistance to the refugees. Yesterday, March 13, the U.N. Security Council held a meeting on Myanmar to hear reports from Noeleen Heyzer, Special Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General to Myanmar, and Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) representative for Myanmar.
Last February, the military junta, which seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, 2021, extended the state of emergency for another six months in 40 municipalities, from several states. Human rights groups accuse the military of extrajudicial killings, torture and unjust detentions and call for the military junta to be referred to the International Criminal Court. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/3/2023)