Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Myanmar bishop calls for low-key festive season

 Mandalay Archdiocese Priests

Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay has appealed to Catholics to focus on spiritual preparations and avoid “high-profile celebrations” at Christmas and New Year to show solidarity with people affected by the ongoing conflicts.

“I appeal to you not to go carol singing, partying and other such celebrations, decorating churches, priests’ centers, convents with lights and posting photos about partying on social media,” Archbishop Tin Win said in a pastoral letter.

He urged Catholics to follow these instructions “to show solidarity with the people from the embattled Sagaing and Magwe regions.” The two regions are part of Mandalay archdiocese.

The faithful were urged to focus on spiritual preparations for celebrating Christmas instead.

“Doing confession, attending Mass, prayers, reading the Bible, Christian meditation, saying the rosary, helping the neediest, charitable works ... starting from Advent Sunday, Nov. 27,” he added.

The prelate’s appeal came amid ongoing junta offensives in Sagaing and Magwe as well as in predominantly Christian Kayah, Karen, Chin and Kachin states.

Hundreds of people from three Catholic villages in Sagaing — one of the bastions of resistance to military rule — have witnessed raids, homes set ablaze and the destruction of property in air strikes and artillery shelling.

Fleeing villagers have sought refuge in Church buildings and relatives’ homes.

“Their villages are becoming a land of ashes lacking homes, trees and birds. I am also deeply sorrowful over the thousands of our brothers and sisters who can’t live in their own homes and instead live in makeshift camps who are facing acute hunger,” Archbishop Tin Win said back in July.

Archbishop Tin Win is the only Catholic leader to openly lend moral support to pro-democracy protesters by standing in front of the priest's center in Mandalay last February as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of several cities, including Mandalay, against the military coup the previous February.

Christians in Kayah, Shan and Chin states could not hold Christmas and New Year celebrations last year due to the fighting.

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