The Pope and I

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the former’s official visit to the Holy See in 2011 (Photo from Loyar Burok blog)

Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Panglima Anifah Aman’s address at the innauguration of the Malaysian Chancery at the Papal State:

INAUGURATION REMARKS BY THE

HONOURABLE DATO’ SRI ANIFAH AMAN, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AT THE

INAUGURATION OF THE EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA TO THE HOLY SEE

EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA TO THE HOLY SEE

9 MAY 2017

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good morning and Bongiorno. It is a singular pleasure for me to be here this morning and to welcome all of you to the Inauguration of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See. Selamat Datang!

2. I am honoured to be here to officiate the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See.

3. Malaysia is a developing nation and is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. Since its formation in 1963, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years.

4. Malaysia has also delivered in all fronts, particularly on its economic growth and social development. It has exceeded the expectation of the developing world.

5. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world. We are also a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also known as ASEAN.

6. To ensure that the country continues to progress and uphold its “Tiger Economy”, there has been continuous new approach and policies undertaken by the leaders over the years to ensure its economy continues to grow further, ensuring incremental development in the country.

7. In 2009, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, initiated the Government Transformation Programme or GTP and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

8. GTP and ETP are programmes aimed at ensuring Malaysia and its citizens continue to prosper, living in peace and harmony through the economic and social development Roadmap.

9. It is also against this backdrop that in 2011, Malaysia established bilateral diplomatic ties with The Holy See.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. Malaysia established diplomatic ties with the Vatican on 27 July 2011. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Government of Malaysia accredited the Malaysian Ambassador in Switzerland to The Holy See.

11. On 25 November 2015, we made the decision to establish an Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See, with residence in Rome. His Excellency Bernard Giluk Dompok was appointed as the first resident Ambassador to The Holy See.

12. The establishment of diplomatic relations with The Holy See signifies our commitment to enhance the existing mutual ties between both countries, particularly in religious issues, as well as to promote better understanding in religion. This is in line with Malaysia’s initiative of the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).

13. Malaysia strongly believes on the need to practice moderation as the fundamental element to foster greater integration, ensuring peaceful coexistence through the rejection of extremism that undermines the universal values of religion.

14. Through the establishment of a resident embassy based in Rome, we are able to participate and contribute to worldwide dialogues on various regional and international issues, particularly on promoting religious understanding, education, poverty eradication, migration, as well as on climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

15. One of the biggest challenges in today’s world is to fight extremist groups which are growing regionally and internationally. Extremism is a cancer to the world, as it creates chaos and political instability in a country.

16. We have witnessed in the media the aftermath and chaos caused by the deeds of extremists. There is nothing to gain out of such deeds. In fact, the suffering of innocent people is indeed sad and inflammatory.

17. I must say that eliminating hatred and anger, emotions commonly used by extremists groups for their ends, is crucial to ensure peace and harmony. In this connection, the demand for moderation is even more relevant and needed today than in previous times.

18. Malaysia is a strong advocate in the promotion of moderation as a way of life and as means to resolve misunderstandings in society through dialogue and education.

19. Malaysia’s efforts to promote moderation has gained recognition with the country seen as a model of a modern, dynamic and progressive nation rising up to the challenges of a multicultural society.

20. Malaysia also welcomes future collaboration with the various Pontifical councils, international organisations and non-government organisations in hosting dialogues and seminars aimed at promoting better religious understanding in the near future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

21. It is against this backdrop that we are gathered here today. The Inauguration of the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy see is a first step towards introducing our presence here today.

22. This event brings together diverse stakeholders to be connected with each another and I am positive that there will be many future collaborations with Malaysia in the various political, economic and social-development issues of mutual interest.

23. On that note, I thank you all for taking your valuable time off to be here today with us to witness the historical Inauguration of the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See.

24. I wish all of you a productive day ahead.

Thank you.

***** END *****

During the visit of Prime Minister Najib to the Holy See on 27 July 2011, Malaysia agreed to establish a diplomatic representative office to formalise better relationship between the two nation.

It was a landmark visit after Fourth Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s inaugural visit to the Holy See nine years earlier, because Prime Minister Najib and the Head of the Catholic Church then His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI inked the agreement for embassies to be established in both nations.

Now that Malaysia has established chancery in the Vatican City, Prime Minister Dato’ Srì Mohd. Najib Tun Razak should extend the invitation for Head of the Catholic Church His Holiness Pope Francis to do a state visit.

Eighteen months later, the Vatican State appointed His Excellency Joseph Marino as the Apostle Nuncio to Kuala Lumpur.

Apostle Nuncio Joseph Marino presenting his credentials to His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong XIV

It is timely for Wisma Putra to deliver the invitation to the Holy See for Pope Francis to reciprocate the visit by two Malaysian prime ministers.

There many global issues that the two nation could work together, be it social economic or geo political. Example is the effort to uplift and taking societies out of poverty level and trap.

Malaysiakini story in 2015:

Papal visit will boost relations with Malaysia

1 comments     V Thomas     Published 16 Feb 2015, 7:40 am     Updated 16 Feb 2015, 7:42 am

Recently, Pope Francis made a visit to the Philippines and celebrated an open-air mass which was attended by an unprecedented 5 million of the faithful, a record for any papal visit.  Pope Francis’ popularity can be traced to his humble demeanour, openness and for his championing the cause of the downtrodden, women’s rights and for those sections of society that have been discriminated against.

Pope Francis’ statements are observed closely and his pronouncements on international issues are given much consideration, more so than his predecessors.

The Argentine pope has cultivated a friendly image with the global audience, and is well liked by world leaders and religious heads.  He is a popular pope and many nations are keep to invite him to visit their countries.

As such Malaysia could invite Pope Francis to visit the country in the near future. Malaysia has a large community of Christians in both West and East Malaysia, and the pontiff’s visit will be very meaningful and significant.

It has been 57 years since Malaysia gained independence and no pope has visited the country although Malaysia has established diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and Pope Francis is represented here by the Papal Nuncio.

Presently, relations between Christians and Muslims are a bit frayed over some issues and the pope’s visit could mend relations and bring back amity and goodwill between the two communities. The East Malaysian Christians could be longing and expecting a papal visit now that the Pope has visited a neighboring country, the Philippines in January.

Additionally, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is pushing forward his concept of moderation as a means to resolving various international issues, and with Malaysia’s election to the UN Security Council for the 2015-2016 term the moderation concept could become the centrepiece of Malaysia’s policy.

Pope Francis’ endorsement of Malaysia’s moderation concept could add weight to Malaysia’s voice and final greater acceptance as he is the leader of a global community of more than a billion Catholics.

Malaysia has much to gain from a Papal visit, more so during the present time when there is a need to repair and foster good relations among the country’s diverse communities. Unlike the Dalai Lama’s meeting with world leaders which arouses China’s criticism of the Tibetan leader, Pope Francis has always steered clear of political issues during his travels.

Further, it will be good if the federal and state governments could declare Good Friday a public holiday.

Presently, only Sabah and Sarawak observe this. Some states in West Malaysia, which have a larger number of Christians such as Penang and Selangor as well as Kuala Lumpur, could begin this process.

The government has been magnanimous in granting public holidays for some minor festivals and it is hoped that in the same goodwill spirit Good Friday, too, could be declared a public holiday. Good Friday, which this year falls on April 3, if declared a public holiday will be a boon to Christian students and workers to attend church services.

Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/289395#ixzz4gg7T2Mdp

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Both leaders are also bent on ‘building bridges’ and resolution through friendship, dialogue ad taking the moderate and middle path. Prime Minister Najib advocates strongly the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), for the policy and practice  of inclusion towards the betterment of societies.

His Holiness Pope Francis interpreted the title ‘Pope’ means “Builder of Bridges”.

Prime Minister Najib advocated the important to remain moderate in his reminder to Malaysians in his Wesak Day address, that interfaith harmony is paramount to ensure stability in the nation.

The Malay Mail Online story based on Bernama report:

Interfaith harmony important for nation’s future, says Najib

SHAH ALAM, May 10 — Malaysia’s future depends on continued political and social stability which, in turn, hinges on interfaith harmony among Malaysians, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He noted that the existence of interfaith harmony was premised on mutual understanding and mutual respect.

“This is among the intrinsic values that we need to propagate and strengthen,” he said at a tea reception marking national Wesak Day celebration here today.

Najib said the country’s founding fathers and all the others had not only laid the foundation of the constitution but also the values and political basis for generations of Malaysians after them to forge interfaith harmony.

This, he said, should be applied towards greater unity among all Malaysians, he said.

Among those in attendance at today’s event were Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Malaysia Buddhist Association vice-president Sit Chan Liang.

In the course of the speech, Najib praised Buddhists who gathered for the reception for remaining silent as the Muslim call to Asar prayer was heard.

“This is an example of how we show mutual respect. You gentlemen who profess Buddhism showed respect to the Azan (calls to prayer) which is very close to the hearts of Muslims.

“I thank you for showing respect to other religions,” he said to applause from the crowd.

Najib reckoned that Malaysia was unique thanks to its links to the great civilisations of Asia that existed in the Malay Archipelago, China and India.

Malaysia, he said, had benefited from all the teachings, learnings, values, cultures, religions and languages from such great civilisations.

Najib said he had just undertaken a successful visit to India, and in not more that 24 hours he would be in China for another visit.

“All these visits cannot be successful without us being the model of a country that is united in diversity,” the prime minister said.

He said that Malaysia commanded the respect of many countries throughout the years as it was an exemplary nation in many respects.

“We do not have the tension, conflict, violence that other countries are undergoing,” Najib said, adding that Malaysia was viewed by many as a land of peace and harmony.

Meanwhile, in scenes repeated across the country, devotees thronged temples such as the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur to mark the occasion.

Despite the erratic weather throughout the day, they continued to come from as early as 6am to offer prayers at the 123-year-old temple.

Neoh Lik Hoey, 38, a temple volunteer for more than 10 years, said this year’s celebration was upbeat and vibrant despite the lack of space due to one of the main buildings undergoing reconstruction.

Wesak Day is the most important day in the Buddhism calendar. It marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

Buddhists commemorate the auspicious day by, among others, fasting and eating vegetarian food, offering prayers, giving alms to the needy and donating blood as well as indulging in self-reflection and supplication. ― Bernama

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/interfaith-harmony-important-for-nations-future-says-najib#sthash.iG0s3vkb.dpuf

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Malaysia, where Islam is defined in the Federal Constitution as ‘Religion of the Federation’, would be very honoured to receive the state visit of a very progressive Head of the Catholic Church.

His Holiness Pope Francis is an extension of Pope John Paul II’s policies and practice of inclusion and making friends.

Bernama.com story published by The Sun Daily:

Pope Francis anointing Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Anthony Fernandez as a Cardinal (photo by The Star)

Archbishop Fernandez’s appointment a true honour, recognition for Malaysia: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak (pix) has congratulated Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Anthony Soter Fernandez for his appointment as a cardinal by Pope Francis.

“Congratulations to his eminence Rev Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez for being appointed as a cardinal by the Pope.

“Archbishop Fernandez’s appointment is a true honour for Malaysia and recognition of our multi-cultural society,” Najib said in his latest Twitter account today.

Fernandez, 84, is Malaysia’s first ever cardinal to be named by the Pope in Vatican City on Oct 9.

He is among 17 new cardinals elevated to the second highest rank within the Roman Catholic hierarchy. — Bernama

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Prime Minister Najib already expressed his appreciation on behalf of the nation for the appointment the Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Anthony Fernandez as a Cardinal by Pope Francis, which is a landmark ascension of a Malaysian in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

His Holiness Pope Francis state visit to Malaysia is also to strengthen the Vatican’s recognition of Malaysia. The visit of the custodian of St Peter’s Basilica would add the warm feeling just like when the custodian of the two holy mosques state visit two months ago.

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Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 19:30  Leave a Comment