“Law of the People’s
Republic of China
on Safeguarding National Security
in the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region”

1st July 2020

A Call for Prayer by Cardinal Bo

On behalf of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, I call on Christians of all traditions and people of all faiths, throughout Asia and the world, to pray for Hong Kong, and indeed for China and all her people, with great insistence.

The government of China has last night imposed a new national security law for Hong Kong. This was done without systematic consultation with the general public. This law seriously diminishes Hong Kong’s freedoms and destroys the city’s “high degree of autonomy” promised under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. This action brings a most significant change to Hong Kong’s constitution and is offensive to the spirit and letter of the 1997 handover agreement.

Hong Kong is one of the jewels of Asia, a “Pearl of the Orient”, a crossroads between East and West, a gateway to China, a regional hub for free trade and until now has enjoyed a healthy mixture of freedom and creativity.

A national security law is not in itself wrong. Every country has a right to legislate to safeguard protect national security. However, such legislation should be balanced with protection of human rights, human dignity and basic freedoms. The imposition of the law by China’s National People’s Congress seriously weakens Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and Hong Kong’s autonomy. It radically changes Hong Kong’s identity.

I am concerned that the law poses a threat to basic freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong. This legislation potentially undermines freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, media freedom and academic freedom. Arguably, freedom of religion or belief is put at risk.

According to many reports, freedom of religion or belief in Mainland China is suffering the most severe restrictions experienced since the Cultural Revolution. Even if freedom of worship in Hong Kong is not directly or immediately affected, the new security law and its broad criminalization of “subversion”, “secession” and “colluding with foreign political forces” could result, for example, in the monitoring of religious preaching, the criminalization of candlelit prayer vigils, and the harassment of places of worship that offer sanctuary or sustenance to protesters. It is my prayer that this law will not give the government licence to interfere in the internal affairs of religious organizations and the services they provide to the general public.

Clear assurance should be given for my brother bishops and fellow priests as they prepare their homilies, Protestant clergy as they ponder their sermons, and for religious leaders of other faiths too who must instruct their communities. The participation of religious bodies in social affairs should not be disturbed. Provisions in Hong Kong’s Basic Law guarantee freedom of belief. Will religious leaders now be criminalized for preaching about human dignity, human rights, justice, liberty, truth? We have learned from heavy experience that that wherever freedom as a whole is undermined, freedom of religion or belief – sooner or later – is affected.

Over the past year there have been many protests in Hong Kong, most of them peaceful. However, while over 9,000 protesters have been arrested, while not a single police officer has been held accountable for their disproportionate brutality. We hold that all – protesters and police officers – are accountable according to the law. It is imperative that the underlying causes of unrest should be attended to, and that meaningful reforms and compromises are reached. This national security law threatens to exacerbate tensions, not to provide solutions.

For these reasons and in the spirit of the prophets, martyrs and saints of our faith, I urge people to pray for Hong Kong today. Pray for the leaders of China and Hong Kong, that they respect the promises made to Hong Kong, the promise to protect basic liberties and rights. May I urge all to pray for peace.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo,

President, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

1 July 2020
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Pope Francis
appoints Msgr. John Saw Gawdy
as the Coadjutor
Bishop of the Diocese of Taungngu,

Msgr. John Saw Gawdy, a priest of the same diocese, was appointed on Monday (29 June 2020). He currently serves as a Professor at Saint Jean Marie Vianney Inter-diocesan Major Seminary in Loikaw. As Coadjutor, Bishop-elect Gawdy has the right of succession for the Diocese following Bishop Isaac Danu, the current Bishop of Taungngu.

Brief Biography Msgr. John Saw Gawdy was born on 21 October 1955 in the village of Domapholi, in the parish of Leiktho, in Taungngu. He belongs to the Gheba tribe, and was born into a Catholic family. Bishop-elect Gawdy studied philosophy and theology at Saint Joseph’s Major Seminary in Yangon. He also obtained a Master’s in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Josephinum College in Yonker, Ohio (USA). He was ordained a priest on 9 April 1983 for the Diocese of Taungngu.

After his priestly ordination, Father Gawdy served in several roles:
– 1983-1984: Director of the Catechetical Center in Leiktho;
– 1984-1990: Professor of Philosophy at St. Joseph’s National Major Seminary in Pyin Oo Lwin;
– 1990-1993: Studies in the United States;
– 1993-1997: Parish priest of the Church of Leiktho;
– 1997-2007: Rector of Saint Paul’s Minor Seminary in Leiktho, in Taungngu;
– 2007-2016: Vicar General and Parish priest of the Church of Leiktho;
– Since 2017: Professor at the Saint Jean Marie Vianney Inter-diocesan Major Seminary in Loikaw.

Bishop-elect Gawdy currently serves as a member of the Diocesan College of Consultants, the Diocesan Presbyteral, Pastoral, and Financial Councils, and the Diocesan Tribunal.

Rome, 29 June 2020
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“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”
(2 Cor 5:20)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year the Lord grants us, once again, a favourable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life. We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.

1. The paschal mystery as the basis of conversion

Christian joy flows from listening to, and accepting, the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This kerygma sums up the mystery of a love “so real, so true, so concrete, that it invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue” (Christus Vivit, 117). Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do with as we will. Rather, life is born of the love of God our Father, from his desire to grant us life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). If we listen instead to the tempting voice of the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44), we risk sinking into the abyss of absurdity, and experiencing hell here on earth, as all too many tragic events in the personal and collective human experience sadly bear witness.

In this Lent of 2020, I would like to share with every Christian what I wrote to young people in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew” (No. 123). Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer.

2. The urgency of conversion

It is good to contemplate more deeply the paschal mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us. Indeed, the experience of mercy is only possible in a “face to face” relationship with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends. That is why prayer is so important in Lent. Even more than a duty, prayer is an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which always precedes and sustains us. Christians pray in the knowledge that, although unworthy, we are still loved. Prayer can take any number of different forms, but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to his will.

In this favourable season, then, may we allow ourselves to be led like Israel into the desert (cf. Hos 2:14), so that we can at last hear our Spouse’s voice and allow it to resound ever more deeply within us. The more fully we are engaged with his word, the more we will experience the mercy he freely gives us. May we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the foolish illusion that we can control the times and means of our conversion to him.

3. God’s passionate will to dialogue with his children

The fact that the Lord once again offers us a favourable time for our conversion should never be taken for granted. This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth. Despite the sometimes tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this opportunity to change our course expresses God’s unwavering will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us. In the crucified Jesus, who knew no sin, yet for our sake was made to be sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), this saving will led the Father to burden his Son with the weight of our sins, thus, in the expression of Pope Benedict XVI, “turning of God against himself” (Deus Caritas Est, 12). For God also loves his enemies (cf. Mt 5:43-48).

The dialogue that God wishes to establish with each of us through the paschal mystery of his Son has nothing to do with empty chatter, like that attributed to the ancient inhabitants of Athens, who “spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). Such chatter, determined by an empty and superficial curiosity, characterizes worldliness in every age; in our own day, it can also result in improper use of the media.

4. A richness to be shared, not kept for oneself

Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.

Today too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of good will to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world. Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness. We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life. For this reason, in the midst of Lent this year, from 26 to 28 March, I have convened a meeting in Assisi with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy. As the Church’s magisterium has often repeated, political life represents an eminent form of charity (cf. Pius XI, Address to the Italian Federation of Catholic University Students, 18 December 1927). The same holds true for economic life, which can be approached in the same evangelical spirit, the spirit of the Beatitudes.

I ask Mary Most Holy to pray that our Lenten celebration will open our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him. In this way, we will become what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:13-14).


Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 7 October 2019
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
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The Sunday of the Word of God

Celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God
Divine Word Center

Sunday, 26 January, marks a new observance established by the Pope in his Motu Proprio “Aperuit illis”, to be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, and to be dedicated to the celebration, study and spreading of the Word of God.

“Let us go to the roots of his preaching,” the Pope said, “to the very source of the word of life,” which “helps us to know how, where and to whom Jesus began to preach.”

Following the Pope’s wish on Sunday 26 January we celebrated the first Sunday of the Word of God in the Catholic Church. For this occasion, we invited several groups from the nearby parish church which include: Bible Sharing Group, Woman Association, Legion of Mary and the Youth Group.

It was a four-hour meeting filled with various activities. We started by welcoming all the guests, of whom there were more than a hundred, and explaining the reason for the meeting, the meaning of the new celebration established by the Pope. Then in the program we had a few speeches, interspersed with elements of local culture such as chants, dances, etc. The whole meeting was closed with a Bible Quiz followed by a speech and the final blessing by the local Parish Priest, Father Noel.

It was a very fruitful meeting for me and I hope for everyone. First of all, it gave a chance to present our congregation to people around us. It was an opportunity not only to discuss but also to show what we would like to do in the future in the diocese and what we were invited to do in Yangon Diocese. Most importantly, from our point of view, it was also an opportunity to deepen knowledge of Scripture, to get to know the idea of Catholic missions and get to know each other. It may not have been a meeting at the highest scientific level, but it was certainly a good start and a fruitful time for us as well as for the invited guests.

At this point I would like to thank very much all those who helped us in any way to prepare this meeting. Many people have made a great effort to make this meeting fruitful in various ways. Without the help of the local community it would have been very difficult to organize this meeting, so I hope that this meeting and the effort put into the organization will contribute to tightening the relations between us and the local community and will be a starting point for other meetings and various other initiatives.

Many thanks also to the local Parish Priest and the local clergy for allowing us to organize this meeting and for support at every stage of implementation.

God Bless
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Basic Bible Seminar

Biblical Service

Every year, in every parish the Diocese of Yangon organizes a Biblical Seminar as a part of the Basic Biblical Course. This year, the seminar was held from November 27th to 30th at our home, Divine Word Center. It was a very well organized course, conducted by the director of the Yangon Diocesan Bible Commission, Father Saw Peter, in collaboration with some lay collaborators. On Wednesday evening, only the registration of members with a brief introduction took place. For the next three days, a group of about 40 participants was busy all day long, from morning to evening. The program included many conferences, meetings, various forms of Bible work, samples of teaching to read carefully and many more. But what is the most important each day begins with a Mass in our home chapel.

It was a really good time, the time of new experiences, discoveries and teachings. Many people had learned a lot and, above all, it was a deep spiritual experience. Some people participated in this type of seminar for the first time, saw and learned many new things that will be fruitful for them as well as for the people of places where they live and work in churches and chapels. The idea of the course was not only to engage people in active participation in the seminary itself, but also to encourage them to continue work with the Bible in their own homes, workplaces and schools.

The local parishes are very large territorially with many chapels. For many people it was a time of getting to know each other better or even making new acquaintances. Seeing the atmosphere that accompanied the whole meeting, we must say that it was a good time and God’s time.

May God bless the organizers and participants of the meeting and give them the strength and grace to promote, study and diversify in using the Bible for their and others’ good.
God Bless
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1st December 2019

Myanmar is a badly wounded nation in desperate need of healing. For seventy years Myanmar has been torn apart by ethnic conflicts, dictatorship and religious nationalism that has led to horrific bloodshed, death, destruction, slavery, rape and injury. War and hatred have resulted in displacement of hundreds of thousands. Our natural environment is threatened, our economy ruined, our education denied. An exodus from the country over past years has led to entire generations of our brothers and sisters from Myanmar soil growing up in other parts of the world in lands and cultures that are not their own.

For too many decades Myanmar was closed off from the world. In the past seven years some moments of hope and signs of light emerged, only to be replaced by new dark clouds. Now is the time to seek truth, justice, peace and reconciliation. I am a priest not a lawyer or a politician, and so I will not comment on the international legal initiatives that are underway. But I do know that for there to be peace, there must be justice, and for there to be reconciliation, there must be the recognition of the truth. I appeal today to the leaders of Myanmar to put away guns and violence and to reach out in dialogue with all communities in Myanmar – of every race and religion – to seek a peaceful, political resolution to decades of conflict and to begin a new process of peace, justice, truth and reconciliation.

I appeal to the international community to keep in mind the well-being of all the peoples of Myanmar as it considers what measures to take in pursuit of justice.

In particular, I urge the international community that in their effort to hold those responsible for crimes against humanity accountable, they do not inadvertently penalize those who are not responsible, and do not punish the people of Myanmar as a whole, who in the past seven years have seen their country take tentative, fragile steps towards opening up to the world. I appeal to the international community to be careful not to adopt measures which could hurt the poorest. I encourage the international community to focus their efforts in a targeted way on those directly responsible for perpetrating grave violations of human rights and gross injustices.

The Church takes seriously its call to speak out for justice. As it says in Proverbs 31: 8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”. I have sought to do this in all my statements, especially my recent document, Reflections from the Periphery, and I remind the government of Myanmar, the military, civil society, the ethnic nationalities and religious communities of the values set out in that document.

For the Church, justice and peace go hand in hand, and truth and reconciliation walk together. Myanmar needs the world’s help to go down the path of truth and reconciliation. I pray for my nation and for the international community, that together we might walk hand-in-hand in the pursuit of peace. I renew my pledge to offer my services in that task, so that we might build a Myanmar in which every human being of every race or religion has an equal stake in the country’s future, equal rights and equal dignity, in freedom without fear. I pray that God will guide all of us on the path of peace.

Sweet December to all!

Charles BO –
Yangon Archdiocese – Myanmar
President of FABC
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            Merry Christmas and Happy New Year            

God is born as a child into a dangerous world which does not want to receive him.

God takes the risk to become human in order to show us his love and save us. Are we ready to give God a home in our lives? Are we ready to take the risk of being human?

May you feel God’s presence in the candles, that softly spread their glow at Christmas and may you experience the wonder of His abiding love, as He guides you, through each day of the coming year. May God’s Blessings be with you at Christmas and New Year!  

                      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All.

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We, the Divine Word Missionaries cordially invite you to the Blessing of the Divine Word Centre, a Centre for Biblical Apostolate, Hmawbi, by His Eminence Cardinal Charles Bo, in the presence of Bishop John Saw Yaw Han and the Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word, Father Paul Budi Kleden and Father Henry Adler, the Provincial Superior of the Australian Province, on Sunday 16th December 2018.

The Blessing begins with the Eucharistic celebration at the Sacred Heart Church, Hmawbi
followed by Blessing and lunch at the Centre.

Tel. +95 9966 456 892

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