Catholic faithful in Myanmar have expressed support for the call of Church leaders not to sing Christmas carols or hang Christmas decors to show solidarity with those most affected by the political situation in the country.
“I agree with the announcement of the dioceses because the Church should be in solidarity with the suffering people,” said Father Peter Kyi Maung of Radio Veritas Asia’s local language service in Myanmar.
“It is not good to be enjoying and celebrating in the funeral house,” said the priest, adding that Christians should be “prudent and able to read the signs of the time.”
Catholic nun Patricia May Oo Khaing of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier said everyone should stand for “the cause of justice for brothers and sisters who are in trouble and are abandoned.”
Father William Soe, a director of the Office of Social Communication, encouraged everyone to “silently pray for our home country” by reciting the Rosary, performing Eucharistic adoration, and attending online Masses.
“When people are struggling to survive and shed their blood and gave their lives for the common good, we should not have joyful celebrations,” said Sister Bridget Nant Htay Shin, SFX.
“If we have it, we will be like heartless and selfish people and non-citizens,” she said.
“By avoiding Christmas celebrations and parties, we show that we are involve in the fight against injustices,” added Sister Nant Htay Shin.
Father Zuzel, parish priest of Kyaitlatt in the Diocese of Pathein, welcomed the expressions of solidarity.
“We weep together and rejoice together for we all are children of God,” he said.
Pauline Shwe, a parishioner, said she would warmly welcome the birth of Jesus in silent prayer, fasting, and recitation of the Rosary while “Myanmar is crying.”
“I will spend more time in prayer for God’s children who are in fear, trouble, and starvation,” said Shwe.
“If the Church does not stand with the truth, people will see her as a timid community,” said Father Wilfred Saw Naing Oo.
Myanmar’s Catholic Church leaders have earlier urged the faithful to be in solidarity with the people this Christmas.
In a circular, Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha said peope in many areas of the country are “fleeing, grieving, and losing lives and houses due to infectious diseases and war.”
Archbishop Mark Tin Win of Mandalay called on priests, men and women religious, and the laity to celebrate Christmas and New Year but without singing carols or holding parties.
“May you make confessions, hear Mass, pray, read the Bible, meditate, listen to homilies, recite the Rosary, help those in trouble, give alms, and be in solidarity with the poor,” said the bishop in a separate statement.
Bishop Felix Lian Khen Thang of the Diocese of Kalay also instructed Catholics in his diocese “not to do any decoration except ritual rites and preparations of (the) Christmas crib inside the churches.”
He said everyone should instead “make inner preparations, such as Eucharistic adoration, praying the Rosary and Novena, reading the Bible, and giving alms.”
Other Catholic dioceses and Protestant and Christian Church leaders have also issued similar guidelines urging the faithful not to hold Christmas parties and to avoid the singing of carols.
Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy on February 1, saying voter fraud had led to the party’s landslide victory in the country’s November 2020 election.
The junta has yet to provide evidence for its claims and has violently suppressed nationwide protests calling for a return to civilian rule, killing 1,303 people and arresting 7,796 over the last 10 months, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.