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“I write these lines as a spiritual leader, empathizing with the sentiments of millions of people at this moment… I write with love towards all, seeking a durable solution, praying for an end forever to the periodic darkness that envelops our dear nation…”

~ Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, wrote in a message to the people of Myanmar and the international community following the Feb. 1 military coup in the Southeast Asian nation.

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Diocese of Wanxian

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Diocese of Wanxian
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Wanzhou diocese covers Wanzhou district and eight counties in a mountainous area. The eight counties are Chengkou, Fengjie, Kaxian, Liangping, Wushan, Wuxi, Yunyang and Zhongxian. It currently has an estimated 60,000 Catholics scattered along the Yangtze River.

Population

The area covered by the diocese is home to nearly 1.7 million people.

History

What is now Wanzhou Diocese was established on Aug. 2, 1929, as Apostolic Vicariate of Wanhsien (Wanxian) from Apostolic Vicariate of Chongqing. On April 11, 1946, the Vicariate was elevated to Diocese Wanhsien (Wanxian).

On May 22, 1998, the State Council approved that the areas named Wanxian were renamed to Wanzhou what also now applies to the diocese. Wanzhou, once part of Sichuan province, was placed under Chongqing in 1997 when the latter was upgraded and become China's fourth municipality.

Affected by the Three Gorges Dam Project, for which certain areas along the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang or Long River) were submerged under water, the churches of Wanzhou diocese have had to be relocated or newly built.

The inauguration of the new diocesan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 2002 marked the end of a "massive project" to replace churches affected by the Three Gorges Dam Project, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world that started in 1993 and was finished in 2006. The church building has seats for 600 and standing room for 400 more, while the old cathedral could accommodate just 430 Catholics.

According to Church sources, fewer Catholics inhabit the area, but the cathedral and other churches were moved to those areas because the government decided to build some churches near tourist attractions to boost tourism.

Wanzhou diocese which is in the Ecclesiastical province of Chongqing covers a territory of 20,000 square kilometers.

Transportation

Wanzhou can be reached by land, water and air.

Economy

Wanzhou is an important city and port along the Three Gorges area for the textile industry and the local produce like oranges, tangerines, peaches, bamboo and lumber. The cruise ships from Chongqing always drop anchors at midnight here in purpose to enter into the Three Gorges at dawn next day.

Shengli Lu is a famous night market where Wanxian rattan and cane are sold. Handmade summer bed mats, fans, hats, straw shoes, furniture and baskets are traded roadside every night. There are silk-weaving and cane-furniture factories.

Topography

Wanzhou, formerly Wanxian county, is a district of Chongqing Municipality in southwestern China. The urban area of Wanzhou, located in the northern part of the district and on the upper reaches of the Three Gorges, is 228 kilometers away from downtown Chongqing.

"Wanzhou" literally means "myriad-prefecture", where "a myriad of rivers" converge and a myriad traders gather. Due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, 47 percent of Wanzhou's old urban area is underwater as the reservoir is filled. Buildings in the submerged area have been torn down and new ones rebuilt on higher ground.

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