Participants at the 89th plenary session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Seated from left: Archbishop Nicholas Chia (Singapore), Archbishop John Ha (Kuching), Bishop Paul Tan (Melaka-Johor), Msgr Marek Zalewski (First Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Singapore), Bishop Emeritus James Chan (Melaka-Johor). Standing from left: Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom (Sandakan), Bishop Cornelius Sim (Brunei), Bishop Anthony Lee (Miri), Bishop Joseph Hii (Sibu), Bishop Cornelius Piong (Keningau), Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (Kuala Lumpur), Coadjutor Archbishop John Wong (Kota Kinabalu), Archbishop John Lee (Kota Kinabalu) and Bishop Antony Selvanayagam (Penang).

Vatican has asked all bishops’ conferences to come up with procedures for cases

JOHOR BAHRU – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei is working on a “protocol” for child sexual abuse, according to the head of the organisation.

“The first draft is already done,” Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor told CatholicNews.

Bishop Tan was speaking on the sidelines of the conference’s 89th plenary session, held at Majodi Centre in Plentong, Johor, from Jan 9-13.

Bishop Tan explained that the Vatican has asked all bishops’ conferences in the world to come up with a “protocol” for child sexual abuse.

Explaining the term, Bishop Tan said, “If a member of the clergy is accused of sexual abuse of children, the steps and procedures we are to take will constitute the ‘protocol’.”

Bishop Tan said the conference will come up with a second draft of its “protocol”, which will be sent to Rome for comments.

A final draft taking into consideration Rome’s comments will then be sent to Rome for approval, he added.

According to the conference programme, Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur spoke on sex education and human sexuality. Topics discussed included the care that Catholic educators must take when teaching children about sex, and respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia of Singapore spoke on vocations to the priesthood and Religious life against a backdrop of rising affluence in the region, according to the meeting programme.

The lack of appropriate witnessing by clergy and the media-magnified sexual abuse scandals have also not been helpful, the conference was told.

Presently, Sabah is producing more vocations than other areas in the bishops’ conference, the conference learnt.

The bishops’ conference also noted that vocation promoters from the various dioceses will attend a meeting to discuss how to address the vocation crisis.

Commenting on the worldwide meeting of bishops, to be held in Rome in October, Bishop Tan told CatholicNews that some dioceses in the region have already sent their comments on the lineamenta, the text presenting the topics for discussion.

The theme for the Synod of Bishops meeting is The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

Bishop Tan also delivered a paper on climate change. He had represented the regional bishops in Bangkok at a meeting on climate change last year, organised by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

By Vincent D’Silva

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