Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday for Burmese Catholics, urging them not to lose hope as their homeland is engulfed by violence.
The congregation — drawn from Rome’s small Burmese community, which consists mainly of students — sat socially distanced and masked as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
In his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica May 16, the pope encouraged people not to fall into despair as security forces in Burma repress protests following a military coup.
He said: “Please, do not lose hope: even today, Jesus is interceding before the Father, he stands before the Father in his prayer. He stands before him with the wounds with which he paid for our salvation. In this prayer Jesus prays for all of us, praying that the Father will keep us from the evil one and set us free from evil’s power.”
Francis, visited the Southeast Asian country in November 2017.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has said Children’s deaths in Israel-Gaza conflict are ‘terrible and unacceptable in an impassioned appeal Sunday for an end to surging violence in the Holy Land.
Speaking after the recitation of the Regina Coeli May 16, the pope expressed alarm at the Israel-Gaza conflict which has left more than 100 people dead, many of them children.
He said: “In these days, violent armed clashes between the Gaza Strip and Israel have taken hold, and risk degenerating into a spiral of death and destruction. Numerous people have been injured, and many innocents have died.”
“Among them there are also children, and this is terrible and unacceptable. Their death is a sign that one does not want to build the future, but wants to destroy it.”
The pope also lamented intercommunal violence involving Jews and Arabs within Israel.
He said: “Furthermore, the crescendo of hatred and violence that is affecting various cities in Israel is a serious wound to fraternity and peaceful coexistence among citizens, which will be difficult to heal if there is not an immediate opening to dialogue.”
“I ask myself: where will hatred and revenge lead? Do we really think we will build peace by destroying the other?”
He appealed for calm in the region, urging local leaders and the international community to help secure peace.
“Let us pray unceasingly that Israelis and Palestinians may find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step by step, to a common hope, to a coexistence among brothers,” he said, before reciting a Hail Mary for the conflict’s victims, especially children.