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MAJODI, Johor – The 97th Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB) was held at Majodi Centre, January 11-15.
The meeting took place on the eve of the ordination of Bishop-elect Bernard Paul to the Office of Bishop, at which time he takes canonical possession of the diocese of Melaka- Johor.
Archbishop Joseph Marino, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia told the arch/bishops that this was a time to be together and to share in the joy of serving the Lord and His flock. He said that the bishops, as shepherds, must ensure that the love and mercy of God reaches all without exception.
“This gathering is to evaluate and coordinate the pastoral activity of the Church among the people of God entrusted to your care and guidance,” he said.
The papal representative also welcomed Bishop Bernard Paul, a new member to the conference. He called on the other arch/bishops to embrace him as a brother-worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
In his address, Archbishop Marino touched on the office of Bishop, stating that “our prayer as Bishops is ‘not any kind of prayer,’ but rather, one that is marked by a “familiar union with Christ, in which we daily encounter His gaze and sense that He is asking us the question: Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
He said that when we fix our gaze on Christ, and He on us, the answer is always the same. Everyone is my brother and everyone is my sister, because He himself excluded no one or distanced himself from no one, even the most notorious and despicable, the most sinful and corrupt.
Therefore, he said, prayer helps us to realise who we serve and to whom we minister.
Archbishop Marino urged the arch/bishops to be convinced of the presence of God’s mercy in their lives, adding that, “such a conviction will lead us to a true sense of humility, because we recognise that who we are is precisely the result of what God has done to us.”
He said that in the homily on November 9, the Pope reminded everyone that bishops “have been chosen from among men and for men; and have been appointed to the things pertaining to God.”
In defining the episcopacy as one of a servant tending the flock, he affirmed that such a template entails “welcoming magnanimously, walking with the flock, and staying with the flock.”
He stated that to welcome means to make our hearts “large enough to welcome all the men and women you come across during the day and whom you go and seek out when you go about your parishes and to every community.”
Speaking about bishops as the person of encounter, the nuncio said the description of the bishop as servant leads us to see that the primary way through which the bishop exercises this ministry of service is by being a person of encounter, a person who can break down the walls that divide our communities, and even those outside our communities.
The nuncio pointed out that, as bishops, it is imperative to have an open heart, a heart ready to embrace, to reconcile and to sit with anyone, especially those who have extended a welcoming hand to us.
The Conference of Bishops then proceeded to the agenda that included matters on the World Synod of Bishops, Islamization, Federation of Asian Bishops Conference, Malaysian Catholic Education Council, Social Communications, Family Life and Interreligious Dialogue.
On the second day of the Conference, the arch/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 arch/ bishops. – Herald