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PLENTONG – The Conference of Religious Major Superiors (CRMS) of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei gathered at Majodi Centre, here on 9-11 Jan 2018 for their annual meeting.
Twenty-two superiors of men and women religious congregations of Malaysia and Singapore also met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia and Apostolic delegate to Brunei, Archbishop Joseph Marino.
In his address to the religious, Archbishop Marino thanked the religious men and women for the wonderful work they are doing for God and the Church.
He informed them that he was a product of religious educational institutions, from the age of five up to his Licentiate in Theology in Rome.
Archbishop Marino then urged the religious for special prayers for the forthcoming Ad Limina visit of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB) with Pope Francis next month.
He stressed the importance of the Ad Limina visit of the local arch/bishops with the Pope.
The CRMS also appreciates the opportunity to grow in relationship with their respective arch/bishops through these annual encounters.
The major Superiors then joined the CBCMSB in the session with SUHAKAM, led by Jerald Joseph.
SUHAKAM was created by parliament as an oversight body to ensure Malaysia complies with human rights standards and its peoples understand and live by it. Created in 2000, SUHAKAM’s primary function is to advise the government that laws and policies are in line with international human rights norms.
“We also have the mandate to investigate human rights complaints and to ensure victims are heard. We get about 500 to 600 complaints submitted to us annually… these complaints range from torture in detention, abuse of power, discrimination, violation of basic freedoms, issues of freedom of religion etc. Education of all people about human rights is important to raise awareness. Led by eight commissioners and a staff of 80 in three offices (KL, Sabah, Sarawak), this work needs the full support and collaboration of all stakeholders in Malaysia,” Joseph said.
He added, “In reaching out to all religious groups and political parties to emphasise the importance of human rights, SUHAKAM hopes that the bishops and leaders of the Church can encourage its members to utilise the functions of SUHAKAM if there are any issues of human rights violations that are occurring. The Church could also be a natural partner in the promotion of human rights education through its institutions, through its formation and media. SUHAKAM is ready to work in this area with the Church. There is also a need to seek the support of society in SUHAKAM’s role in advising the government in abolishing the death penalty and the ratifying of human rights conventions like the International Convention against Torture (CAT) etc, we would be looking at the Church for its support on such issues too.”
The Human Rights Group encouraged the Church to continue its work to promote and uphold human rights based on the dignity of the human person, by conscientising the people, particularly the members of the Catholic Church.
They also mentioned that Catholic schools could contribute to uphold human rights through information campaigns in its schools.
The superiors also shared “family news” — updates on what is happening in their community and ministries. They further discussed possible collaborative projects among themselves and other Christian organisations. – Vincent D’Silva, Herald Malaysia