A group photo during the conference. Front row from left: Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia, First Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature Msgr Marek Zalewski, Kuching Archbishop John Ha, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino, Melaka-Johor Bishop Emeritus James Chan and Brunei Bishop Cornelius Sim. Back row from left: Priest-secretary Fr Michael Teng, Penang Bishop Sebastian Francis, Sibu Bishop Joseph Hii, Miri Bishop-elect Richard Ng, Keningau Bishop Cornelius Piong, Archbishop William Goh, Melaka-Johor Bishop Paul Tan and Kota Kinabalu Archbishop John Wong.
JOHOR BARU – The Church has been experiencing an authentic reawakening through the ministry of Pope Francis who has been giving much hope and joy, said the apostolic nuncio to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Marino.

He was speaking during the 93rd Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei held in Plentong, Johor, from Jan 6-10.

Archbishop Marino said that one of the key elements that has produced so much expectation is the pope’s dedication towards reform.

“From all reports, it seems that he is on track to bring about some changes that hopefully will give positive results,” he said.
He mentioned that the ultimate reform that the Church needs must take place within the local Churches.

Archbishop Marino also noted that efforts in the area of inter-religious dialogue must intensify and the Church must become a Church of mercy that is manifested with the attitudes of humility, simplicity and a spirit of dialogue.

He said, “Every Christian is called to go to meet others, to dialogue with those who do not think like us, and those who have other faiths and with those who even have no faith at all.”

Speaking on the role of the bishops’ conference, he said the primary function is to “jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory”.

Elaborating, he said the conference must address common concerns of bishops and must do so with a spirit of care, solidarity and collegiality.

Archbishop Marino urged the bishops to reach out to their very own, inviting back those who have left, and making sure that priests and Religious are always welcoming, adding that “parishes must always be opening and welcoming, even with an available confessor at all times”.

He also expressed his sincere thanks to Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam (see story below) whose resignation from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur was accepted.

The conference then proceeded to discuss matters to do with Synod on the Family, Charismatic Renewal, Justice and Peace, Migrants and Itinerants, Liturgy and Social Communications.

The bishops also discussed at length on Islamisation which has been an issue in Malaysia.

Archbishop John Ha, president of the bishops’ conference also welcomed Bishop-elect Fr Richard Ng who will be installed as bishop of Miri on Jan 25.

On the third day of the conference, the bishops had a joint meeting with the assembled Conference of Religious Major Superiors (CRMS) who had gathered for their annual meeting. The CRMS presented the bi-annual report to the bishops.

By Vincent D’Silva