Myanmar bishop urges restraint over festive season

A Burmese-style crib on display at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Mandalay in December 2014. (Photo supplied)

Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay has appealed to Catholics to make an effort to be more religious and avoid drinking alcohol and partying over Christmas and New Year.

“I urge you to be more religious without drinking and partying with the intention of avoiding the Covid-19 pandemic,” Archbishop Tin Win said in a letter on Dec. 19.

He reminded Catholics not to post photos and videos about partying on social media as it is not beneficial.

The prelate asked the faithful to strictly obey Covid-19 guidelines from the Health Ministry in order to stem the spread of the disease as Myanmar is reeling from a second wave of the coronavirus.

Archbishop Tin Win also urged priests from the Diocese of Mandalay to discuss celebrating Masses on Christmas and New Year with local authorities.

He said there will be no public Masses on Christmas and New Year in Mandalay and nearby Pyin-Oo-Lwin, though there will be live broadcasts.

The archbishop had earlier urged Catholics “to show compassion to God’s love and mercy as it is time to pray for one another, to share what we have with those who face hardships due to Covid-19.”

Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, has reported the second-highest number of cases with nearly 300 on a daily basis. Yangon, the most populous city, has the highest number of cases.

In the wake of surging infections, Mandalay regional government has extended Covid-19 measures from Dec. 16 to the end of December.

The measures include a curfew from midnight to 4am and a ban on festivals, interfaith activities, preaching ceremonies and visits to pagodas.

On Dec. 14, the Ministry of Religion informed church leaders to hold services on Christmas and New Year by getting permission from local authorities and under the guidelines from health officials.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar has issued health guidelines about Masses at Christmas and New Year in compliance with measures imposed by the government.

Parishes are urged to hold Masses with no more than 30 people and follow social distancing, wear face masks and screen temperatures before entering churches.

Carol singing has also been banned by the government across the country.

Myanmar reported 947 new coronavirus cases on Dec. 20, bringing the total to 116,134 with 2,443 deaths and 95,387 recoveries. It has the third-highest number of cases in Asean behind the Philippines and Indonesia. - UCA News