Cardinal pledges loyalty to King

Malaysia’s first Roman Catholic cardinal has pledged to uphold the Federal Constitution and abide by the Rukun Negara, which is dedicated to achieving greater unity of all people.

Jan 13, 2017

By Neville Spykerman
Malaysia’s first Roman Catholic cardinal has pledged to uphold the Federal Constitution and abide by the Rukun Negara, which is dedicated to achieving greater unity of all people.

“I pledge my loyalty to the King and country, uphold the rule of law and endorse good behaviour and morality,” said His Eminence Anthony Soter Fernandez On Jan 8, a Thanksgiving Mass was held at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist to celebrate his elevation. During his address, Cardinal Fernandez read out the personal letter he received from Pope Francis after his appointment on Oct 9 last year.

“I was struck by the simplicity of the Holy Father, as he simply signed his name as Francis,” he said.

His elevation as Malaysia’s first Cardinal by Pope Francis is seen as an important milestone for the 1.3 million Catholics in Malaysia.

Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino said Cardinal Fernandez’s appointment was an honour “which is unique and reserved to a very few.”

Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Julian Leow described it as a proud moment for Catholics in Malaysia.

The Mass on Jan 8 was attended by local and foreign dignitaries along with leaders of other faiths.

Cardinal Fernandez was born on April 22, 1932 in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

He studied at Convent Taiping (1940-1941) before the war interrupted his education. He resumed his education at St Teresa School and the Ibrahim Secondary School in Kedah.

In 1958, he joined a minor seminary in Singapore at the age of 26 and completed his training at the College General, Penang, in 1966 where he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Penang.

He was ordained bishop of Penang in 1978 before being appointed the second Archbishop of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese in 1983, where he served for two decades.

As Archbishop, he called for the daily use of the national language, saying: “Malaysian Christians, as loyal citizens, are duty-bound to use Bahasa Malaysia as widely as possible, not merely because our children are more proficient in that language, but as a sign of our commitment to and love for our country.”

On May 24, 2003, he tendered his resignation as Archbishop due to ill health.

However, he continued serving the Church. --The Star

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