Pope Francis Wednesday appealed for peace in Myanmar, where clashes between police and coup protesters have left around 200 people dead.
At the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican, the pope said with great sorrow, he felt the urgent need to mention the situation in Myanmar, where, he added, “Many people, especially the young, are losing their lives to offer hope to their country.”
Daily nationwide protests have continued in Myanmar since the February 1 military coup pushed out the government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In his comments, Francis said, "Even I kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say, 'stop the violence.' Even I open my arms and say, 'Let dialogue prevail.'"
The pope referenced a dramatic scene captured in pictures and video last week when a Catholic nun, Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng, during a rally in the streets of the city of Myitkyina, dropped to her knees in front of armed police in riot gear and pleaded with them not to shoot the protesters. At least two of the officers dropped to their knees with her.
The nun later described to reporters how she told the police the demonstrators were merely shouting slogans and urged them not to beat or arrest them. The nun said when they told her they must stop the protesters, she told them they must go through her.
Despite her efforts, the police fired tear gas into the crowd and gunshots could be heard a short time later.
In his concluding comments Wednesday, the pope urged “that a path of sincere dialogue may be found” to end the clashes. "Let us remember that violence is always self-destructive. Nothing is gained through it, but much is lost, sometimes everything,” he said. The pope visited Myanmar in 2017.