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Church officials: Being charitable can be misunderstood

Church officials say reaching out to the needy and afflicted can be seen as politically motivated given the military coup in Myanmar.
Father William Soe (light green T-shirt and shoulder bag) and two nuns and laity preparing raw materials at the diocesan center inside the Cathedral compound in Pathein. (Photo: OSC Pathein).

Church officials say reaching out to the needy and afflicted can be seen as politically motivated given the military coup in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Pathein diocese in Ayeyarwaddy Region distributed food aids to the needy on November 25. The diocese distributes the food aid with the help of the Office of Social Communication (OSC).

“We had distributed food aids such as onions, cooking oils, rice bags, noodles, eggs and packs of lentils to one hundred households in the parish of Yenan Taung regardless of region,” said  Father William Soe, the OSC director of Pathein diocese.

Pathien diocese distributed food aid to Catholics and people of other faiths.

“Although we did a charitable act, we had to worry that we would be misunderstood that we were doing politics due to the current political situation,” said Father Wilfred Naing Oo, the parish priest of Yenan Taung.

The priest feels happy to see the smiling faces of the receivers.

“We were worried that due to the political crisis, we might face some prohibitions and restrictions from the authorities,” the Director of OSC Pathein told Radio Veritas Asia.

But the Church official and volunteers did not face any trouble or disturbance to bring food aid to the people.

Father Willam Soe told Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) that the followers of the OSC Pathein Facebook page, who are inside the country and abroad, donated money to the needy through the social communication office in the diocese.

“Bishop John Hsane Hgyi initiated this charitable effort for the poor. Bishop John  Hsane was active in preaching online, and followers named him “online bishop.”  He died due to Covid-19 on July 22,” the director of OSC Pathein told Radio Veritas Asia.

Father Willam Soe is grateful to the bishop.  “We are continuing his fruitful activity.”

According to Father William, the Catholic faithful were listeners of Bishop Hsane Hgyi’s online daily gospel reflection on social media, particularly Facebook. The social media followers did not stop donations even though the prelate had died.

The OSC packed materials for the needy,

It was the first time the office resumed the distribution of food aids to the poor after the death of Bishop John. Since the prelate was alive, food aids distributions had been done more than a couple of times in other parishes.

The diocese of Pathein consists of 36 parishes and three zones; Pathein zone, Hinthada zone and Myaungmya zone. There are 12 parishes in Pathein, 14 in Hinthada, and 10 in Myaungmya zones.

According to Father Naing Oo, Yenan Taung parish, which belongs to the diocese of Pathein, is composed of 150 Catholic households. The parishioners live in peaceful coexistence with people of other beliefs in the parish, located in Kyan Khin Township, Ayeyarwaddy Region. The majority of the Catholic faithful are Chins, who are included in the eight major tribes in the country.

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