Pope Francis creates the new archdiocese of Chittagong in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Feb 1, 2017–Bangladesh has a new ecclesiastical province. Yesterday Pope Francis erected the Archdiocese of Chittagong, on the east coast of the country, raising the bishopric of the same name to Metropolitan See.

At the same time, Msgr. Moses Costa, now Bishop of the diocese, was appointed first Metropolitan Archbishop of Chittagong. Upon hearing the news, he said with emotion: “I thank God for this blessing. His grace gladdens me. I will continue to preach the Gospel with enthusiasm and help our people to be witnesses of God among the people”.

According to the Archbishop, there are different challenges facing the new ecclesiastical province: “First of all encouragement to religious vocations, which here are not numerous. We need more priests, nuns and religious and we hope that more and more young people will choose consecrated life. ”

Another field of action, “is the fight against poverty. Most of the Catholics are of tribal origin and live in conditions of extreme need “. In addition, “our territory extends in hilly and inaccessible areas, difficult to reach and where it is not easy to create places of prayer. But preaching the Gospel among the tribal is really a great opportunity. ”

Card. Patrick D’Rozario, present at Mass during which he announced the creation of the archdiocese, addressed a prayer to God: “Oh Lord, take care of your shepherd and guide him according to your desire.” “God will help us – he added – we are very happy for this blessing given to the Catholics of Bangladesh”.

Hundreds of faithful, nuns and priests were present in the cathedral. The news of the papal appointment was announced by Msgr. George Kocherry, Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh, who also read a letter sent by the Pope. The newly elected province will have as the diocese of Khulna and Barisal suffragan Churches.

The elevation of the bishopric has spread joy among the Catholic community. One of the faithful, Liton Tripura, says: “We are grateful to God and to Pope Francis. The creation of the archdiocese will urge us to practice our faith in more appropriate way. ”

The Catholic religion arrived here in 1537, when Portuguese missionaries created settlements in the area. The first church was built in 1600 in Diang, where the present town later arose. Today the population is more than 19 million, mostly Muslims. Catholics 48,917, are spread across 11 parishes. The Archdiocese has 8 diocesan priests, 10 religious priests and 71 nuns.

As for the Archbishop Costa, he was born on November 17 November 1950, in the village of Tumilia near Gazipur. He was ordained a priest on February 5, 1981. He served the diocese of Dinajpur as bishop from 1996 to 2001. Addressing the faithful present at the time in  the diocesan Cathedral, Msgr. Costa said: “Now your responsibilities will increase. Please pray for me.”  (AsiaNews)