Catholic bishops in Myanmar have urged the faithful across the country to fast and recite special prayers for peace after the Feb. 1 military coup.
Under the guidance of Cardinal Charles Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), bishops and congregations from 16 dioceses have called for a day of special prayers, fasting and adoration on Feb. 7.
“Clergy are urged to say Masses on Feb. 7 with the intention of bringing peace in the country and to appeal to all Catholics to take part in special prayers, fasting and adoration,” says the statement signed by Bishop John Saw Yaw Han, general secretary of the CBCM.
The CBCM also asked bishops to give sermons based on Cardinal Bo’s recent appeal to the people of Myanmar, the military and the international community when he urged the faithful to pray, fast, attend Masses and observe one hour of adoration in their communities.
“Politics is a vital area of evangelization because it also aims, like the Church, to lead people to the common good,” Cardinal Bo said on a tweet on Feb. 5.
He said the common good can be achieved through love, truth, justice, peace and reconciliation.
In his powerful message on Feb. 4, Cardinal Bo condemned the coup and called for the release of all detainees including deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The UN Security Council has expressed deep concern about the coup and called for the immediate release of all those detained.
“They stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law,” the 15-member council said in a statement on Feb. 4.
They encouraged the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.
Myanmar’s military junta has arrested officials from the National League of Democracy (NLD), lawmakers, writers, activists and monks.
Win Htein, a close aide of Suu Kyi and a key figure in the NLD, was arrested at his Yangon residence on Feb. 5 and brought to Naypyidaw, the remote capital where ousted leaders, President Win Myint and State Counselor Suu Kyi have been kept in separate locations, according to media reports.
Before his arrest, he told reporters it was not a wise move by the military and urged the public to carry out a campaign of civil disobedience as a display of resistance to the military takeover.
At least 130 officials and lawmakers and 14 activists have been detained in relation to the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Yangon-based group that monitors political arrests.
Residents of Yangon and Mandalay banged pans and pots while others sounded car and motorcycle horns during the third day of anti-coup protests.
The civil disobedience movement has grown among various professions including doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants who wear red and black ribbons as a sign of defiance.
No major demonstrations have been held so far but small protests were held in Mandalay and Yangon on Feb. 4 and four people in Mandalay were arrested.