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Archbishop Simon Poh in his talk Pastor after the Heart of the Good Shepherd spoke on the crisis in the Church.

Jan 26, 2019

Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly: DAY 4

Archbishop Simon Poh in his talk Pastor after the Heart of the Good Shepherd spoke on the crisis in the Church. He cautioned the clergy against clericalism and urged them to be accountable and transparent in all their dealings.

Indigenous Sarawakians and Sabahans are changing the face of the Bumi putra population in Semenanjung Malaysia. They have also increased the percentage of Catholics here.

This is the next wave of mass migration which began earlier with the Chinese and Indians in the early days of Malaya. We are now experiencing a new arrival and settlement.

The first generation from Sabah and Sarawak came for better job opportunities.The second generation were born in Peninsular Malaysia, fell in love(with non Malays we pray) and are ready to start new families. Hence, the third generation is on its way to being part of the local community.

The local community needs to do its part to welcome and assimilate them.

Jesus the Good Shepherd
We have to be like the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, who smells like the sheep and gives life in its fullness. Pope Francis calls us to leave the four walls of the Church and to go out into the world. As shepherds, we are to go out and be with our sheep.

“Remember, when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God through out the hours of the day, not only for the peopleof God but for the world remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf …

Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, that you practise what you teach... Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.(Ordination Homily of Bishop to Priest)

There are many temptations that are affecting us: Personal Comfort and Materialistic Living, Pride and Ego, Position and Power, just to name a few. When we become more concerned about our own image, we stop glorifying our Lord and Master.

The Catholic Church and Nation Building
We need to be vigilant and not to be complacent. As shepherds, we need to go out to the peripheries and speak for the voice less.We need to collaborate between Sabah, Sarawak and Semenanjung Arch/Dioceses. The integrated Seminary formation has began a new step towardsa truly Malaysian clergy with a future exchange of clergy between dioceses. Today, at the Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly (MCCA), we have already embarked on this journey as ONE Malaysian Church.

A –Accountability,
C –Competency
T –Transparency
S –Service (Ministry)

As a Church, we will hold our government accountable. Remember that this is a double edged sword as we will also be held accountable by our own people

These are in areas of Accountability, Competency, Transparencyin Church management and Services/Ministry

In our pastoral administration,we are the exclusive custodians of the Sacraments. Thus, as ordainedand anointed ministers, if we arenot available or willing for anointing the sick, then who else can?

The ugly head of clericalism
We have gone through seminary formation and because of the status of our ordination and a clergy centred Church, we are thrust right on to the very centreof leadership in our Church. We are placed on high pedestals by our people.

There is the temptation of“clericalism,” which is often perpetuated un consciously in the mentality of our laity who love us.This is seen in our emphasis on the church structure and positionsin the structure: + Bishop, Priest,Sister, Seminarian and so on.

In the absence of the priest, the lay leader then acts like a “mini priest.” And so further down ther anks, the ‘hierarchy” is maintained: Catechist, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Parish Pastoral Councillor, Chairman of Committee, Office bearers, Ordinary members.

Rise of Committed Laity
A new phenomenon today is the greater awareness of a handful of lay people from the professional and corporate world who are now taking up theology and beginning to serve and take up full time Church ministries.

These lay people are committed to the Church and possess adeep love and sincere pastoral concern for the Church.

I have received feed back from these committed lay leaders. Many are positive but they also expressed their frustrations and gave feed back on priests who have acted or retaliated with harsh actions or words that are un becoming of priests. Instead of being life giving, we hurt people and turn them away...

-- Using a top down style of communication
-- Lacking consultation
-- I am always right attitude
-- Rejecting criticism
-- Demanding to be obeyed
-- Expecting personal privileges
-- Expecting to be served
-- No accountability
-- Ambition to rise in hierarchical ranks
-- Does not apologise when wrong
-- Blames others for his mistakes
-- Lacking politeness
-- Boasting to promote one self

Having a Humble and Listening Heart
The youth that I am working with have these words for us Bishops, Priests and Deacons. With humble hearts, we listen and learn from the youth on how to be good Pastors.

Listen to God,
Listen to our people
Listen to my heart“.... the young people want to be heard!

They want to be the subjects and protagonists in the life of the Church rather than recipients.

They want their ideas to be taken into consideration and hope for the Church to see situation sand issues from their point of view.” “From the in depth discussion on the topic of vocation and discernment, we affirm that everyone has a vocation, unique and personal. Every vocation is a divine call that gives meaning to our lives. It is an encounter with Jesus whoc alls us in love and shows us the way. It is a choice for us to walk with him,in whatever way he is leading eachof us.” -- Message from FABC BILA on Youth IV 9-13 July 2018 Pattaya,Thailand

Words of encouragement
As Bishop, called to be a father to the Priests, I would like to affirm you in your ministry,

-- when you are tired and lonely,remember the friendship and communion that we have experienced these few days
-- when you feel that nothing is achieved, focus on Christ in your prayer
-- when every thing you touch is“turning to gold” and you feel you are at the best time of your life, be thankful and remember that we Bishops, Priests and Deacons are merely servants who have been entrusted with much and are being blessed by our Lord Jesus.
-- Above all, continue to do allthings for the praise and glory ofHis name, and for the good of the Church. And as his servants, youtoo will be blessed.

Remember the blessing and promise of God, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure,pressed down, shaken together,running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give willbe the measure you get back.”(Luke 6:38)

The blessing works in reversetoo: If we are kedekut or stingy with the Lord, what we receive will be many times more stingy. That’swhy when Mary was honoured by Elizabeth, she proclaimed in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)

“My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry withgood things, and sent the rich away empty.”

Let us always be generous with our Lord Jesus and the people who have been entrusted to each of us.

Hopes and Aspirations

The members of the clergy were given time to voice their opinions and comments on their hope for the Malaysian Church. Many came to speak on the challenges and opportunities of Islamisation, vocation, and the poor. This session was facilitated by Fr Simon Labrooy and Fr Andy Lee.

Fr Adrian Kho,Kuching Archhdiocese
I notice alot of us from East Malaysia do not know the Clergy from West Malaysia. During the group discussions, I observed that there is a lot of suspicion between the East and the West. We suspect one another. We push the blame on each other for not doing anything.

Fr Joseph Kondu, Keningau Diocese
I agree with Archbishop Simon Poh, Mgr Francis Kuleh and Fr Moses Lui that we need to prepare the families/future generations to face the threat of Islamisation through formation programmes.

Fr Stephen Lim,Kuching Archdiocese
I know this is a Clergy assembly but we must always remember that the greatest challenge of our Church is within our Church. Why do we now look at the vocation of the laity? Is it that we honestly love God or is it out of necessity? We don’t have enough priests and there is too much workto do that we pull in the Catholics and say it is their job. Each of our Catholics has a place and a mission, not because of necessity. Each has been called. Unless this sinks into the mind of our Clergy, we are still a long way off.

Msgr Nicholas Ong, Sandakan Diocese
I want to be more positive. Why worry about Islamisation? Why not we talk about Christianisation to begin with? Simple. Ask our parishioners to have more babies; at least seven. Why? Three to maintain thepopulation. The other two forvocations. Why? Nowadays in Sabah, people say there are no Chinese vocations? I know thatChinese families are having less children, one or two. The mostis three. So, how can we have Chinese priests without Chinese babies? After that, two more, for what? For Christianisation.

I speak from experience. For example, Holy Trinity primary school, Tawau, has 800 students; 700 are Muslims, 100 non Muslims. How many of the non Muslims are Christians? I donot know. Even teachers, so feware non Muslims. In the work place, also few non Muslims.

So where are our young men and girls going to find Christian boy friends and gir lfriends? Thats why Islamisation begins in the womb. Christianisation must also begin in the womb! We can also do Christianisation by talking about Islam and mercy astaught by Pope Francis in the Year of Mercy and in the Youcat and Docat. By promoting this we can ask our BEC members to share with our Muslimf riends what the Pope, with the help of Muslim experts, is saying, that Islam is not a religion of violence but of mercy. I don’tknow what you call this, Islamisation or Christianisation? I think we must support the good Muslims from the more extremist, false and radicalones.

The Pope also spoke toabout 400 Muslim speakers and experts at Al-Azhar University in Egypt telling them about the true Islam, that is a God of peace. Also, I fully agree with Archbishop Simon Poh, that we need formation. With out it we can not evangelise. Our Catholic Church is full of resources. We About 20 must be proactive and use them.

Archbishop Emeritus John Ha, Kuching Archdiocese
Other than what Archbishop Simon Poh suggested that the Episcopal commissions take up all the points raised up at this assembly, I suggest thatthe Bishops’ Conference form a committee to study in depthall the points raised at this Assembly and eventually produce a document as our “Ratio Nationalis” for the Church here in Malaysia.

Msgr Francis Kuleh,Miri Diocese
About 20 must be pro active and use them. years ago, I was in un dated by Islamisation. During my preaching, I started to talk about Islam. Some parishioners came and advised me that I should not talk about Islam for fear that I would be arrested. I told them I don’t care. About two weeks ago, my heart started burning again and I began to look for opportunities to speak about Islam. I feel a need to educate my parishioners, especially the young ones, to defend their faith.

Fr Paulino Miranda, Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese
My hope and aspiration is that we do more for the development of the poor. We have been so blessed with somuch. I have worked with the orang asli and have witnessed the life of the poor. I can’tunderstand why we have not been able to share our resources with those who have so little. When the Nuncio built his place, all the bishops contributed I don’t know how many millions. My question. What amount from each diocese is allocated for the development of the poor? Is there a budget for the poor? Sometimes, when we go into a new parish, the first thing we do isto keep looking at building for the comfort of ourselves. Should we not stop worrying about our selves and be concerned for the needs of the poor? The first thing that Pope Francis said when he became pope was that the Catholic Church should be a church for the poor. I suggest that at our respective clergy recollection, we talk about our accounts. Is there an allocation for the poor?


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