As an expression of the Church’s closeness to the suffering people of Myanmar, Pope Francis brought consolation and hope to Catholics and countless people of other religions in Myanmar when he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this Sunday morning for peace in their troubled homeland, which was robbed of democracy by a military coup on Feb. 1.
Alarmingly, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured in the three and half months of violence following a coup in February overthrew the nation's elected civilian government.
A few hundred people, many of them students and religious sisters from Myanmar, joined Francis in St. Peter's Basilica for the service, which followed his earlier appeals for an end to violence.
Francis urged the country's small Christian community to keep the faith, work for peace and not allow small conflicts to turn into big divisions. "Do not lose hope," he said. "Even today, Jesus is interceding before the Father for all of us, praying that he keep us from the evil one and set us free from evil's power." Detailed tallies compiled by several different watchdog groups say government security forces have killed over 750 protesters and bystanders as they have tried to suppress opposition to the seizure of power.