A human rights activist who was jailed for over a year in Myanmar has been ordained as a Catholic priest.
Fr James Mawsdley was freed in 2000 after 415 days spent in solitary confinement.
Fr Mawdsley was sentenced to serve 17 years in Insein jail for protesting against the Burmese government’s slaughter of ethnic minorities.
He was released after his family’s consistent campaign efforts.
Fr Mawdsley claims to have had a difficult time whilst incarcerated; at one point sustaining a broken nose and two black eyes after a severe beating from one of his guards.
The Lancashire-born activist said he survived his imprisonment – in which was only allowed to leave his cell for 20 minutes a day – through his faith. In an article for the Daily Telegraph in 2008, Fr Mawdsley recalled: “The greatest help came from Christ. The Crucifixion makes sense of suffering. Jesus turned my misery into joy, even in that earthly hell, Insein prison.”
A Bible and missal were the only two objects Fr Mawdsley was permitted to keep in his cell.
The plight of the Burmese Karen tribe was revealed to Fr Mawdsley on a chance encounter with some refugees whilst he was in New Zealand. After hearing their stories of genocide, he decided to go to Myanmar to see the situation for himself. He was deported from the country twice before facing his jail sentence.
After his release, Fr Mawdsley wrote The Heart Must Break: The Fight for Democracy and Truth in Burma about his experience in prison and The Iron Road: A Stand for Truth and Democracy in Burma about the political climate in Myanmar.
Fr Mawdsley’s first Mass took place at the start of July in Bavaria. He is now assigned to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in Warrington as Assistant to Fr Armand de Malleray.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund