Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Catholic News ServiceJanuary 08, 2020
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, is pictured in an Oct. 10, 2017, photo. Cardinal Bo has appealed to the international community not to punish the people of Myanmar as the country faces genocide charges over the military's 2017 crackdown on Rohingya.

MANDALAY, Myanmar (CNS) -- Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho has called for dialogue among all parties as violence escalates in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

His Pyay Diocese in western Myanmar covers troubled Rakhine, which has experienced the worst strife in decades, reported ucanews.org.

The 71-year-old prelate said the ongoing fighting has largely impacted civilian lives, with no end in sight.

"The conflict may be prolonged if one can't keep extreme nationalism out of the picture," he said.

"The elderly, young people and children are the victims of the war," said Bishop Pyone Cho. He said he is concerned that more people may be displaced if fighting continues.

"There are no prospects for returning to the negotiating table as the concerned parties engage in more fighting," Bishop Pyone Cho told ucanews.org.

The Rakhine conflict has killed at least 90 civilians and displaced thousands more since it began in December 2018. At least 44,000 people are displaced in 119 sites in Rakhine, and more than 1,800 people are displaced in 12 sites in Chin state, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported Dec. 31 that clashes between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army continue in Rakhine and parts of Chin state. More than 225 people were newly displaced in Sittwe township in Rakhine.

The Arakan Army is a largely Buddhist militia fighting for greater autonomy for indigenous ethnic Rakhine in the state. Rakhine also has a separate conflict that has seen more than 700,000 Muslim Rohingya flee to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 due to military offensives.

Bishop Pyone Cho said his diocese has collected clothes from parishioners to support internally displaced persons in Paletwa township in Chin state. The displaced are mostly ethnic Chin who belong to Catholic, Anglican and Baptist denominations.

The bishop said ongoing fighting and a lack of security have prevented him from carrying out pastoral visits and meeting the displaced in Chin.

According to diocesan records, Catholics, mostly ethnic Chin, account for 7,800 out of Rakhine's total population of 3 million. Christians make up 1.4 percent of the state's population, with Buddhists accounting for 63 percent, Muslims 34 percent and Hindus 0.5 percent, according to Myanmar's 2014 census.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has said Myanmar stands at the crossroads of history, facing many challenges.

"There are chronic wars, there is huge displacement, unsafe migration of thousands of our youth, climate change and the need for reconciliation among various people," Cardinal Bo said in his Christmas message.

More: Asia

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

A Reflection for Saturday of the First Week of Advent, by Joe Hoover, S.J.
Joe Hoover, S.J.December 08, 2023
A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, by James T. Keane
James T. KeaneDecember 08, 2023
My mom and I decided to start a new Christmas tradition—reading a chapter of the Christmas classic by our fireplace every night leading up to Christmas Day.
Michael O'BrienDecember 08, 2023
After a canceled trip to Dubai due to a bronchial infection, Pope Francis went into the center of Rome to continue the tradition of praying before the elevated statue of Mary next to the Spanish Steps.