Church in South Asia responds to plight of Roghingya


South Asia’s Catholic Church is responding to the Roghingya crisis with humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

Hundreds of thousands of members of the Muslim minority have fled principally Buddhist Myanmar, where the military is conducting a “clearance operation.”

The head of the Catholic Church in Myanmar, Archbishop of Yangon Cardinal Charles Bo, said he expects more from Aung San Suu Kyi.

“The world looks at Aung San Suu Kyi with the same lens with which it looked at her during her struggle for democracy,” Bo told Time magazine. “Now she is part of the government, she is a political leader. Surely she should have spoken out.”

However, he warned against “stigmatizing” Suu Kyi, saying that if the army retakes power, it would cause “the end of any dream of democracy.”

Suu Kyi’s position, is challenging because democracy in Myanmar remains fragile, Bo says.

Even though Suu Kyi was elected in a landmark democratic election in 2015, the military still controls key government ministries including Defence, Home Affairs and Border Affairs.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is walking a tightrope,” Bo says.

“Already dark forces are clamouring for return to army rule.”

Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the Archbishop of the Dhaka, told Crux he planned on visiting the camps personally to assess the situation.

D’Rozario said the church in the country is active in the humanitarian relief work being provided, despite the fact Catholics make up only about 0.2 percent of the population.

“Bangladesh Caritas is involved in relief work in the camps providing relief initially to fourteen thousand families,” he told Crux, adding that Caritas Internationalis is the only international NGO approved by the government to work in the area.

James Romen Boiragi is the Bishop of Khulna, Bangladesh’s third largest city. He said the situation with the Rohingya refugees is “very bad.”

“We condemn this kind of military operation,” the bishop told Crux. “This is an act against humanity and a violation of human rights. So many people are living inhuman lives. Lot of children are struggling to

Pakistani Bishop Joseph Arshad once served in the Vatican embassy to Bangladesh, and now heads the Pakistan Bishops’ National Commission for Justice & Peace.

He told Crux the current crisis transcends ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

“We cannot remain silent. It’s a humanitarian suffering and the Catholic Church in Pakistan stands strong with Rohingya people,” Arshad said.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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