Myanmar Sees Key Changes in Church Hierarchy

VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2003 ( John Paul II made key episcopal appointments for Myanmar (Burma), a country where the Catholic minority is facing hardships.

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The Pope on Saturday appointed Bishop Charles Maung Bo of the Pathein Diocese as metropolitan archbishop of the Yangon Archdiocese. Until now the archbishop also had been apostolic administrator of Mandalay.

The Holy Father also appointed Bishop Paul Zingtung Grawng of Myitkyina as metropolitan archbishop of Mandalay.

In the Pathein Diocese, Auxiliary Bishop John Hsane Hgyi was appointed the new bishop.

In the Myitkyina Diocese, Auxiliary Bishop Francis Daw Tang was appointed apostolic administrator “sede vacante.”

According to a recent report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the government of Myanmar “persists in exercising strict control over all religious activities and imposing severe restrictions on certain religious practices.”

These violations of liberty included the killing of members of religious minorities by the military, the report said. The regime also encourages tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Christian and Muslim minorities.

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Holy See, Myanmar has 600,000 Catholics. Among its 42 million inhabitants, 89% are Buddhist.

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