CLS Press Statement: Diplomatic Ties With The Vatican

The Catholic Lawyers’ Society, Kuala Lumpur (CLS) welcomes the news that Malaysia intends to formalise diplomatic ties with Vatican.

The recent announcement of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s official visit to the Vatican scheduled on 18 July 2011 and the intended establishment of diplomatic ties with the Vatican is in the right direction.

The Vatican has diplomatic ties with over 178 states including the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). 

Malaysia is amongst one of few Muslim majority countries in Asia that has yet to establish diplomatic ties with the Vatican. Qatar was the last Muslim majority country to seal diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 2002.

The CLS notes that previous attempts were made to establish diplomatic ties, especially in 2005 during the visit to Malaysia by His Excellency, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo the then Vatican Secretary of State for the Relations with States (the diplomatic office).

The CLS also welcomes the presence of His Grace Archbishop Murphy Pakiam at this discourse at the invitation of the Vatican. The CLS views the presence of His Grace would be in the best interest of Catholics in Malaysia who have over the years been besieged with various pressing issues that has interfered with our worship and constitutional rights.

The presence of His Grace in this visit will benefit greater dialogue with the Government on inter religious affairs, an area which the Vatican has been pursuing earnestly in recent times.

The CLS views the need for dialogue for the resolution of disputes, which ought to be promoted and encouraged in the local scene. The Holy See has been placing great emphasis on promoting inter-religious dialogue. Pope John Paul II in his address to Muslims in Kenya in 1980, said:

"On my part I wish to do everything possible to help develop the spiritual bonds between Christians and Muslims. Prayer, almsgiving and fasting are highly valued in both our traditions and are beyond doubt a splendid witness to a world that runs the risk of being absorbed by materialism."

His successor, Pope Benedict XVI at a meeting of organizations for inter-religious dialogue in 2009, address the participants as follows,

“Religious belief presupposes truth. The one who believes is the one who seeks truth and lives by it. Although the medium by which we understand the discovery and communication of truth differs in part from religion to religion, we should not be deterred in our efforts to bear witness to truth’s power. Together we can proclaim that God exists and can be known, that the earth is his creation, that we are his creatures, and that he calls every man and woman to a way of life that respects his design for the world.”

Against this back ground, the CLS views the great benefit that will flow with diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

The CLS looks forward to the establishment of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and the Holy See. After all, Muslim majority countries such as, Indonesia, Iran and even Iraq, to name a few, have had long established ties with the Vatican.

Joy Appukuttan
Catholic Lawyers’ Society, Kuala Lumpur

15 July 2011

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