11/09/2022, 11.09
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Kengtung's new Bishop John Saw Yaw Han: 'I will work for peace and reconciliation

The prelate, former auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Yangon, was appointed by Pope Francis on 4 November. Speaking to AsiaNews, he thanks the PIME missionaries "who planted the seed of faith in this diocese".

Kengtung (AsiaNews) - On 4 November, Pope Francis appointed Msgr John Saw Yaw Han as the new bishop of the diocese of Kengtung. The prelate, who is 54 years old, was auxiliary bishop of Yangon and is still secretary general and bursar of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, as well as president of the Bishops' Commission for Ecumenism. Bishop Han succeeds Bishop Peter Louis Ca Ku, who passed away in February 2020 at the age of 68. 

"I am grateful to God and the Holy Father for using and choosing me to serve the people of God despite my limitations and weakness," the newly appointed bishop told AsiaNews. "My gratitude also goes not only to the PIME missionaries who sacrificed and founded the seed of faith in Kengtung diocese but also to those local Bishops, Priests, Religious and laity who continued the mission of the PIME missionaries." Blessed Clemente Vismara (1897-1988) ministered in the diocese for more than 60 years.

Born in 1968 in Homalim in the Sagaing region, Bishop Han studied philosophy and theology at St. Joseph's Major Seminary in Pyin Oo Lwin after being ordained a priest in 1995. In 2004, he returned to the seminary as a teacher after earning a master's degree in moral theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, New York. From 2008 to 2014, when he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Yangon, he also served as rector of the institute. 

Following the examples of PIME missionaries, I hope to serve the people of God with love, dedication and fidelity together with the Clergy, Religious and the Laity of the diocese. I hope to collaborate with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) in nation building especially peace and reconciliation at this moment of political, economic challenges and uncertainty," said Msgr Han.

Unlike other dioceses where thousands of Catholic faithful have been displaced, Kengtung diocese has been partly spared from the ongoing civil war in Myanmar. Even in the predominantly Christian states (Kayah, Shan, Chin, Karen and Kachin), the Burmese coup d'état army has carried out air strikes and used heavy weapons against the country's ethnic militias and People's Defence Forces that make up the resistance to the regime.

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