Bishop Tom Neylon has called for Catholics in England and Wales to pray for the people of Myanmar, one year since the start of a military coup that plunged the country into crisis.
Speaking in his capacity as the lead Bishop for Asia in the Bishops’ Conference Department for International Affairs, Bishop Neylon highlighted the scale of human suffering:
“We continue to pray, with Pope Francis and the Church in Myanmar, for the peaceful restoration of democracy and an end to the country’s suffering.
“Over the past year more than 1,400 people have lost their lives. Myanmar’s Bishops warn that ‘thousands are on the move, millions are starving’ and we are witnessing ever more attacks against civilians, including those seeking sanctuary inside churches. We remember too, the many who remain unjustly imprisoned.
“The Church in Myanmar is holding a light of hope amid this darkness, striving tirelessly to establish nonviolence, reconciliation, and a lasting peace rooted in justice. I encourage Catholics in England and Wales to pray for this mission and for the safety of all those working towards a better future for their country.
“The Holy Father has appealed to the international community to ensure ‘that the aspirations of the people of Myanmar are not stifled by violence.’ We urge our own government to continue playing its part through diplomacy, providing humanitarian assistance, supporting efforts to halt the flow of weapons, and protecting those who have fled the violence.
“We remain confident in Cardinal Bo’s affirmation that ‘peace is possible’ and join his call to ‘let a new Myanmar of peace and reconciliation rise through the power of the Holy Spirit.'”
The Church in England and Wales has a close friendship with the local Church in Myanmar. The country’s first Cardinal, Charles Maung Bo, has visited the UK several times including as a keynote speaker at the Flame Youth Congress in 2017.
At the start of 2020 Cardinal Nichols made a return visit Yangon.
Following the coup, Cardinal Bo thanked the Catholic Church in England and Wales for its solidarity, stating that this support “makes us proud to be Catholic, belonging to the global Catholic family” and provides “a consoling balm” at “this most trying time in our history.”