10/02/2004, 00.00
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First synod in Yangoon archdiocese

Catholic-Protestant collaboration in areas with few priests and ministers was discussed.

Yangoon (AsiaNews/UCAN) – Some 200 delegates took part in the first synod of the Archdiocese of Yangoon that ended last Thursday. The theme of the meeting was "We are called to one hope, one body and one spirit. Place your light on a stand for all to see" and attracted priests, religious men, catechumens and laity from various Catholic organisations.

The 10-say synod dealt with the many themes that govern the Church in the capital city, namely clergy training, cooperation between the clergy and the laity and ecumenism.

More than a thousand worshippers took part in the opening mass officiated by Mgr Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangoon, and the papal nuncio Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio.

Mgr Isaac Danu, Bishop of Taungngu, told the delegates that the synod meant the "collaboration of all vocations in unity and understanding and love toward building the archdiocese together".

Participants also touched upon the problems and experiences that ecumenism among Christians entails. Some delegates wanted to know whether Catholics could worship with other Christian communities when their numbers are too small. Other delegates asked the opposite question, namely what they should do when members of other Christian denominations ask Catholic clergy to lead their liturgy when they have no pastors. For this reason, they have called for the establishment of ecumenical groups in each of the diocese's parishes.

Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is a predominantly Buddhist country (89 per cent). Christians are about 3.7 million in a population of 45 million. Catholics are around 600,000.

The Catholic Church in Myanmar has 12 dioceses.

Since 1965 the government has banned foreign missioners from entering the country.

The Archdiocese of Yangoon has 85,000 members divided in 50 parishes. There are 80 diocesan priests, 23 religious men and 247 religious women.

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