Pope Francis urges end to violence in Myanmar

Pontiff tells country's Catholics not to lose hope despite ongoing conflict

Pope Francis speaks at a mass service in the Vatican for the people of Myanmar. AP
Pope Francis speaks at a mass service in the Vatican for the people of Myanmar. AP

Pope Francis called for an end to violence in Myanmar at a special mass on Sunday after months of bloodshed.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup, triggering a civilian uprising that authorities have sought to quell with lethal force.

Street protests have continued despite the junta's campaign, with one local monitoring group estimating that security forces had killed 790 people.

The pontiff did not denounce the military regime directly in his speech at the Vatican's St Peter's Basilica, but he urged more than 700,000 Catholics in Myanmar not to lose hope.

"Your beloved country of Myanmar is experiencing violence, conflict and repression," he said.

The Pope has promoted peace in Myanmar since the coup, urging the junta to respect a "democratic coexistence" with the people, while calling for the release of detained political leaders.

He visited the country in 2017 after denouncing the persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, who were subjected to a campaign of murder and rape by the military.

But he failed to mention the word "Rohingya" during a speech in Myanmar at an event with Ms Suu Kyi, who was criticised by the UN for her response to the crisis.

Updated: May 16, 2021 06:55 PM

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