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Having recently marked 500 years of Roman Catholicism in Burma, devotees have further reason to celebrate. For the first time in that long history, a Burmese cardinal has been appointed to the Vatican.
Burma’s Archbishop Charles Maung Bo was nominated as one of 15 new cardinals by Pope Francis on Sunday afternoon in front of a thronging crowd outside St Peter’s Basilica.
The current archbishop of Rangoon is one of three Asians nominated to the College of Cardinals on 4 January by the head of the Roman Catholic church in a move many observers regard as a recognition of the church’s strength in the developing world.
Speaking to DVB on Monday, Father Dominic Thet Tin, the pastor of St Mary’s Cathedral in central Rangoon said, “This is delightful news. I hope and expect that [Archbishop Charles Maung Bo] will be able to work for the benefit of Burma and the rest of the world.”
There are estimated to be around 450,000 Roman Catholics in Burma.
According to the Archdiocese of Yangon website, Charles Maung Bo was born in Monhla Village, Shwebo District, Mandalay Division, on 29 October 1948. He studied at Nazareth Salesian Aspirantate in Pyin Oo Lwin from 1962 until he was ordained into the priesthood in 1976.
He was appointed bishop of Lashio in Shan State in 1990 and later served the church in Pathein and Mandalay before becoming archbishop of Rangoon in 2003.
Archbishop Bo raised eyebrows in his New Year’s Day address last year when he proposed granting citizenship for members of the Rohingya Muslim community born inside the country.