The bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei discuss upcoming trip to visit pope and major Vatican offices

Participants at the bishops’ conference meeting. Seated from left: Archbishop Simon Poh (Kuching), Archbishop William Goh (Singapore), Bishop Sebastian Francis (Penang), Archbishop Joseph Marino (Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia), Archbishop Julian Leow (Kuala Lumpur) and Archbishop John Wong (Kota Kinabalu).
Standing from left: Sr Margarete Sta Maria (executive secretary), Bishop Cornelius Sim (Brunei), Bishop Cornelius Piong (Keningau), Bishop Richard Ng (Miri), Bishop Joseph Hii (Sibu), Bishop Bernard Paul (Melaka-Johor) and Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom (Sandakan).

By Vincent D’Silva

“You are going to Rome to see Peter, to share the experiences of the Gospel in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei with the Holy Father.”

So said Archbishop Joseph Marino, the Vatican’s envoy to Malaysia and Apostolic Delegate to Brunei, to the region’s bishops as he opened their bi-annual meeting.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB) were meeting at the Majodi Centre in Plentong, Johor Bahru, from Jan 8-12.

In his address, Archbishop Marino noted that the bishops will have an audience with Pope Francis on Feb 8 during their ad limina visit, a visit that bishops are required to make periodically to the Vatican.

He recalled that their last ad limina visit was nine years ago.

He told the bishops that its primary importance was to visit the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul and to make direct contact with the pope. The visit is an explicit manifestation of the communion that the bishops have with the pope, he said.

“I will pray that this fraternal encounter will bear fruit for your ministry as bishop and for the Churches over which you preside,” he said.

The bishops are expected to leave on Feb 4. In Rome, they will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St Paul and meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. They will also meet with cardinals and archbishops from the various Vatican congregations, as well as visit Vatican dicasteries.

In addition to discussing their ad limina visit, the meeting saw the bishops discussing organisational, spiritual and social issues affecting the Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

The CBCMSB is the topmost body of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It holds its plenary assembly meeting twice a year to discuss various aspects of Church life in the region and to evolve common action to revitalise the Church and to render the Church more effective in serving its members and society.

Meeting of Conference of Religious Major Superiors (CRMS) of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Archbishop Marino also spoke to the Conference of Religious Major Superiors (CRMS) of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei who were also at Majodi Centre for their meeting, held from Jan 9-11.

He stressed the importance of the bishops’ upcoming ad limina visit and urged the 22 superiors of men and women’s Religious congregations to pray specially for them.

The Religious superiors also joined the bishops in a session with SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

The organisation encouraged the Church to continue its work of promoting and upholding human rights based on the dignity of the human person.

SUHAKAM also mentioned that Catholic schools could make valuable contributions in this area through information campaigns in schools.

During their meeting, the Religious superiors shared updates on what was happening in their communities and ministries.

They also discussed possible collaborative projects among themselves and with other Christian organisations.