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Youth-day bans for four dioceses

Church acts after delegates at last celebration sought political asylum

Delegates to the last event in 2008 performing an ethnic dance Delegates to the last event in 2008 performing an ethnic dance
  • ucanews.com reporters, Yangon, Myitkyina and Pathein
  • Myanmar
  • July 7, 2011
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The Church has slapped a ban on four dioceses from sending delegates to upcoming World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid after several youths sought political asylum at the last gathering in Australia in 2008.

The decision to impose the ban was made by the bishops, said Father Gerald Pho Khwa, youth director of the National Catholic Youth Commission.

Five young people from Hakha, Kalay, and Banmaw dioceses failed to return from Australia, while another from Myitkyina diocese initially claimed asylum but later changed his mind and returned to Myanmar, according to Church sources.

This year, the bishops and youth directors in each diocese are being asked to guarantee that their youth delegates do not abscond at the August 12-16 Madrid celebrations.

“I hope those delegates affected can understand our decision.” But the reputation of the Church and our young people are at stake, Father Pho Khwa said.

The youth leaders who represent each diocese must be zealous, ready to work for the Church and strive for the development of the Church by putting their experiences at international events to good use, he added.

Anthony Htoi San Aung, youth director of Myitkyina diocese, criticized the ban.

“This is very unfair. Church leaders should examine the problem and find a better solution rather handing out punishments like this," he said.

Brigit Su Thet Wai 23, secretary of Pathein diocese’s youth commission, said the decision was regrettable yet understandable.

“I feel very sorry these delegates won’t have the chance to go to Madrid. We can’t guarantee that they won’t do the same as the ones who went to Australia.”

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