06 Jan Myanmar Catholics welcome elevation of their Church leader

Written by Nan Myint Published in Myanmar Read 2666 times
Archbishop Charles Maung Bo will shortly be elevated to cardinal, the first prelate in Myanmar to receive such an honour. Photo: Archdiocese of Yangon
Archbishop Charles Maung Bo will shortly be elevated to cardinal, the first prelate in Myanmar to receive such an honour. Photo: Archdiocese of Yangon

Catholics in Myanmar have welcomed the elevation of Archbishop Charles Maung Bo to the office of cardinal, the first time a local Church leader has been selected in the 500 years since the arrival of Catholicism in the territory of Myanmar.

Father Joseph Maung Win from St. Anthony’s Church told Mizzima on January 5 that this was the first time the Myanmar Church had been so honoured.

On Sunday January 4, the Pope officially appointed 20 cardinals at the Vatican in Rome.

Fifteen cardinals are under 80 years of age, eligible to elect the next pose, and five are over 80. This will bring to total number of members of the College of Cardinals to 228.

In November, Myanmar Catholics celebrated their 500th Jubilee Year since the arrival of Catholicism in Myanmar, and the Pope sent a bishop to Myanmar to work as an advisor. There are estimated to be about 450,000 Catholics in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Catholics have welcomed the move by Pope Francis.

Father Joseph Maung Win said: “Bishops came to Myanmar to make observations and they may see the progress of the religion and the Catholic campaign in Myanmar. Therefore, they may have thought that Myanmar should have a Cardinal on behalf of the Pope, that’s why the Myanmar Archbishop was selected as Cardinal, I think.”

Cardinals can compete in the papal election at the papal conclave and have the right to vote in the papal election. This is the current Pope's second set of cardinal appointments during his papacy.

Father Joseph Maung Win said: “The Myanmar Catholic Church has been cooperating with the [Myanmar] Interfaith Group in carrying out some work. It also has been cooperating with all the different Christian groups. Having a Cardinal will help make Myanmar close to the Pope, so we will be able to discuss with him anytime about affairs related to Myanmar.”

U Aye Lwin from the Interfaith Group said: “He deserves to be appointed. He is a person who has great moral principles. He has an open nature regarding those of different faiths, too. He accepts diversity.”

The Pope will meet with the newly-appointed cardinals in Rome on February 14 and officially invest them the following day.

Sixty-six-year-old Charles Maung Bo became a priest in 1976 and rose through the ranks to being installed as the Archbishop of Yangon in May 2003.