Burma bishops call for prayer

Burma's Catholic bishops have called for a national prayer campaign as protests led by Buddhist monks in Burma continue to grow.

As Buddhist monks in the streets of the former capital Rangoon shout "democracy", Archbishop Charles Maung Bo has urged dioceses around the country to pray.

His personal secretary told AsiaNews that the situation is "complicated".

Caritas Australia CEO Jack de Groot says the Australian Government can play a vital role in resolving the situation.

"China, India and to a lesser extent Russia have the ear of the Burmese junta and these are the countries who can bring pressure to bear on the Burmese Generals," he said.

"Australia has a special relationship with China, growing influence with India and increasing involvement with Russia, particularly following APEC. The time for active and creative diplomacy is now."

He insisted the international community must use its influence with China to resolve the tension in Burma"

"The international community has turned a blind eye to Burma for too long. Horrendous human rights violations, including the state sanctioned policies of rape and forced labour must stop. The people of Burma, lead by the courageous monks, have evidently had enough with the recent 500% fuel price hikes being the final straw.

"China can encourage Burma to urgently commence a road map to peace and democracy. The first step is multiparty talks with Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. Australia can advocate with China for this outcome."

Despite threats from the military junta, about 100,000 monks and civilians remain on the streets.

Modern evangelisation began in Burma in the first half of the 19th century with the arrival of American Baptists. Catholic missionaries followed later. Today there are three to four million Christians, including 600,000 Catholics. 80 per cent of the country's 42 million population is Buddhist.

Church launches national prayer campaign (AsiaNews, 25/9/07)
Australia's role in urgent road map to peace and democracy in Burma (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 25/9/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Myanmar (Wikipedia)

2000 gather in Burma cathedral for peace prayer (CathNews, 31/10/06)

26 Sep 2007