09/25/2007, 00.00
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Church launches national prayer campaign

As anti-junta protests continue with Buddhist monks in the streets of the capital shouting “democracy”, the archbishop of Yangon urges dioceses around the country to join in prayer and do all that is possible to help the population and the country.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The Burmese Church launched a national prayer campaign to “help the population and the country in this difficult period,” Father Patrick, personal secretary to Mgr Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, told AsiaNews. “At present the situation is complicated. In any event, Monsignor Bo has called on the dioceses of Myanmar to join together in prayer and do all that is possible to help the population and our nation.”

In the meantime, Buddhist monks continue their protest, marching in the streets of the capital, shouting “democracy.” Despite threats from the military junta—which urged demonstrators to go home warning them of a possible intervention—about 100,000 people, monks and civilians, are currently in the streets.

Modern evangelisation began in Burma in the first half of the 19th century with the arrival of American Baptists. Catholic missionaries followed later.

Today there are about 3 to 4 million Christians, belonging mostly to Protestant Churches and sects; Catholics number about 600,000.

Some 80 per cent of the population of 42 million is Buddhist, but there are important tribal minorities (Shan, Karen, Chin, Kachin, Rakhine, Mon, Wa, Padaung, Akhà, Lahu, etc.) who, through missionary schools, have converted to Christianity, especially in the north of the country.

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