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shepherds-voiceGood evening to you,

Fr Shenan Bouquet, President of Human Life International
Dr Ligaya, Regional Director of Human Life International
Distinguished speakers
chairman and members of the organising committee
my fellow bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters
ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the Archdiocese, I wish to welcome all of you to the City of Kota Kinabalu and to the Congress on Faith, Life and Family, especially all our friends who have come from outside of Sabah.

The timing of this congress is good because it is held in the Year of Faith.  We have professed and celebrated our faith through our prayers and liturgies.  But we need to translate that faith into action.  This congress is a call for us to live that faith by going against the culture of death which is prevalent in many of our societies.  I hope by the end of this congress we will be ready to make a commitment.

We started with a pre-congress pro-life training for the clergy yesterday, which I thought was well presented in terms of scope and content.  I hope the clergy are now more ready to help their people to deal with issues about life.

Indeed the Catholic Church is at the forefront in championing the culture of life.  We have abundant resources at our disposal to guide us.  The teachings of the popes, particularly those of Paul VI and John Paul II, have presented clearly how humankind should treat life.  But such teachings are still to be fully digested and to be widely spread to the masses.  Maybe this congress could be our first step.

Dear friends, though Sabah is relatively behind in many aspects of development, but the advent of media technology and cheap travels have connected our people with the world at large.

However, accessibility to media technology does not mean we have the right information.  Many ideologies, teachings and values presented in cyberspace are not necessarily compatible with the revealed truth.

I remember when Benedict XVI first spoke of the danger of relativism, not many of us took it seriously, until we heard of the way how people perceive life, how the issue of abortion or contraception or even substance abuse is being treated as if it were a consumer’s choice.  The extent people relativise moral issues is a worrying sign.   Life is no longer sacred in the secular mind.  We need to put a stop to all these before God becomes irrelevant to human existence.

We need to have a moral point of reference in dealing with life, and that reference is to be based on our religious conviction which, to us, is derived from the Christian revelation.  Scriptures tell us that every person is created in the image and likeness of God; and that life is sacred because it comes from God.  And we believe that life begins at conception and not at the moment of birth.  No matter how others are trying to downplay these truths, we have to stand by our belief and help to restore them through dialogue and witness of life.

I welcome any forum that discusses and promotes the culture of life because it contributes to restore the truth that every human is created in the image and likeness of God.

Thus, when our Archdiocese was approached to co-organise this congress, I thank God for the chance.  I pray that through the various sessions in the next few days, all of us will be further enlightened and be motivated to promote the culture of life wherever and whenever we can.

Before I conclude, I wish to thank Human Life International Asia-Pacific region and our local organising team for making this congress a reality.  May the Lord bless this congress with good fruits.  Thank you and God bless you.

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