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PLENTONG – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB) held its 99th plenary session at the Majodi Centre here on 9-13 Jan 2017.
Present were Archbishop Joseph Marino, apostolic nuncio; Msgr Mario Codamo, second counsellor of the nunciature, and the eleven arch/bishops.
Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang, president of the conference, welcomed those present and announced that Canossian Sister Margarete Sta Maria will replace Father Michael Teng as the new executive secretary of the conference.
In his opening address, Abp Marino said the elevation of Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez as cardinal has linked the local church more closely to its reality in Malaysia.
He emphasised the need for interreligious dialogue and urged those present to create a culture of dialogue.
“Dialogue is a school of humanity and a builder of unity,” the nuncio said.
The nuncio also told those present that the very essence of the bishop’s office is to preserve the unity of the particular community over which he presides, to be a sign of reconciliation outside the church, and to strengthen the unity among all the churches in union with the bishop of Rome. Hence, the bishop is to be a true agent and minister of encounter and dialogue.
The conference discussed several matters pertaining to secularisation, Islamisation, College General, Bible Knowledge and FABC concerns. They also received reports from the various FABC offices.
They also looked into matters and communications from Rome, organisational, spiritual and social issues affecting the local church.
On the last few days, the CBC had a joint meeting with the assembled Conference of Major Religious Superiors who had gathered there for their annual meeting.
The major superiors updated the arch/bishops on what is happening in each congregation and how they could deepen among their members their understanding and living out of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si and Amoris Laetitia.
Being election year, the major superiors re-elected Friar John Wong ofm as president, Sister Susan Thomas fmm as vice president, Sister Wendy Ooi fsp as secretary, Brother Robert Teoh fms as treasurer, Father Christopher Soh sj and Sister Linda Lizada rc as committee members.
The bishops conference holds the plenary assembly twice a year. Its next assembly will be on July 10-14 at Majodi Centre. – Vincent D’Silva