02/20/2020, 17.51
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Kuching: Catholics to boost Church role in nation-building

The Blessed Sacrament Church in Kuching held a seminar on the topic. The Church’s social doctrine and its implication in the Malaysian context were the main topics. “We need a new narrative,” says Fr Clarence Devadass, not the one by politicians.

Kuching (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Social and Political Awareness Ministry (SAPAM) of the Blessed Sacrament Church organised a seminar on nation-building held last Saturday at the its hall in Kuching (Sarawak). More than a hundred people attended the event.

Catholics, who number 1.15 million (5 per cent), have a role to play in this process, which is more than just “pray, pay and obey” in Malaysian society.

The main speaker was Fr Clarence Devadass, a priest from Kuala Lumpur who is moral theologian, a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and executive secretary of Theological Concerns in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC).

Fr Devadass divided his address in two parts. In the first, he looked at the Christian social vision focusing on Catholic perspective and principles. In the second, he turned to nation-building in Malaysia and how Catholic social teachings can be lived out in Malaysia’s multi-religious context.

The clergyman first laid out the bases of Catholic social doctrine, underlining its interdisciplinary and constantly evolving nature. He then turned to the Malaysian context, which is one of different cultural and religious heritages.

In light of Church teachings, Catholics are called to play an important role in society. For Fr Devadass, this includes prayers, which “inspire action, and action inspires us to pray”. The two go hand in hand, so that nation-building is the path to holiness.

So what can Catholics do? Fr Devadas asks. They can show how “to live in harmony and peace and care for creation by working for others. We are all pilgrims on a journey, walking in one direction…towards God.”

Changing mindset and getting involved in the “common good” in society are an integral part of the Catholic faith. This calls for being grounded in the Church’s teachings and in the faith in Jesus, supporting the community and political leaders, understanding the Church’s mission, and being the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

For Fr Devadass, everyone has a duty to contribute to national-building and uphold truth, justice, solidarity and freedom for all. To this end, “We need a new narrative, we need a people’s narrative,” not one by politicians.

The Diocese of Kuching is located in the south-western part of Sarawak State, which, together with Sabah State, constitutes the Malaysian part of Borneo Island.

About two thirds of all Malaysian Christians live in this part of the country. In Sarawak, Christians are the largest religious group (42.6 per cent). In the Diocese of Kuching, Catholics number 209,000, just under 18 per cent out of 1.17 million.

The diocese is divided into 12 parishes, and has 25 diocesan priests and 12 religious priests, 64 nuns and 27 full-time catechists.

 (Photo credit: Today's Catholic).

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