Tag Archives: ad limina visit

Keningau bishop calls ad limina visit a ‘blessed moment’

Bishop Cornelius Piong was one of the bishops of the Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Bishops Conference who went for the ad limina visit to the Holy See on 4-9 Feb 2018. For him it was a “blessed moment.”

This Ad Limina touched me in a very personal way because this year, 2018, is the Silver Jubilee of the Keningau Diocese.

In remembering and reflecting on our journey together in Jesus Christ for twenty-five years, we would like to thank Jesus who loves us, be with us and protect us (Jn 3:16, Mt 1: 21-23).

We also want to express our gratitude to the Holy Spirit because He is our helper. He teaches us and He reminds us of the teachings of Jesus (Jn 14:26). By His power, the priests, religious and lay people are able to walk together in the spirit of unity, wisdom and holiness (John 17). I am also convinced that the guidance and prayers of Mother Mary since the early Church are a source of protection for us, His People (Acts 1:14).

In our meeting as Malaysian-Singapore-Brunei Bishops with the Pope on Feb 8, the Holy Father stressed on the importance of praying and to believe in the mercy of God who is always with us in the ministry. The meeting, together with Cardinal Soter Fernandez and Pope Francis, took nearly two hours. Every Bishop expressed his wishes to the Pope spontaneously. At the meeting, the Pope also emphasised that family members, parents and children, faithfully live in unity and communicate with each other face-to-face and be on guard for the negative influence of today’s electronic media.

As the Bishop of Keningau Diocese, I told the Pope that we, the people of God in Keningau Diocese, will celebrate our Silver Jubilee on May 5 this year. I have conveyed the greetings of the priests, religious, and laity to him, telling Pope Francis that the people of God in Keningau Diocese have been walking together in Jesus Christ, guided by the Pastoral Theme Christ-centred family to worship God strengthen Faith and social responsibility.

I also asked the Pope to pray for our preparation and celebration of the Silver Jubilee of Keningau Diocese.

I believe that the prayer and guidance of Mother Mary have made all matters possible throughout our Ad Limina journey and also through the company of the Malaysian Ambassador to the Vatican, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, and his staff.   – Herald Malaysia, 28 Feb 2018

Our bishops tell Pope Francis: We are encouraged by your leadership

Pope walks to his seat at the meeting with the Malaysian, Singapore and Brunei prelates on 8 Feb 2018 at the Vatican.

KUALA LUMPUR – The archbishops and bishops from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei made their Ad Limina Visit on 4-9 Feb 2018.

They met with the Holy Father as Successor of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ on Feb 8 and it was the most anticipated event.

The arch/bishops introduced themselves individually to the pope who greeted them in the library. He then discussed with the bishops openly about the issues facing them in their arch/dioceses for almost 90 mins.

“He is a very humble man, not caring much about protocols and formality. He invited us to ask any questions, even sensitive ones, because he was keen to hear from us,” said Archbishop William Goh from Singapore.

At the meeting, the arch/bishops expressed their support for Pope Francis and said that they were happy with the direction he was taking for the Universal Church.

“We are in solidarity with Pope Francis. Our churches are feeling encouraged because we have taken the same direction as he has taken,” said Bishop Sebastian Francis, the President of the Bishops Conference.

“It’s a genuine conviction that this is what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today!” he added.

Abp Goh said that on his part he asked the pope about the effectiveness of the different dicasteries of the Curia in responding to the challenges facing the Universal and Particular Churches, because of the bureaucracy of the institutions and the enormous areas of concerns they have to attend to.

Secondly, Abp Goh shared with the Holy Father about the confusion among prelates, priests and laity on chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

He asked, ‘How should we understand and apply the pastoral guidelines given to assist the spiritual lives of married couples who are living in irregular marriages?’

“The Holy Father was receptive, open and non-defensive in all his replies, and sought to help the bishops understand the context and objectives of his apostolic exhortation. He advised the arcbishops/ bishops not to retaliate or fight with their opponents but to be firm and be patient in winning them over through dialogue and perseverance. He ended the meeting by asking the bishops to pray FOR him, not AGAINST him,” said Abp Goh.

“We left the meeting feeling inspired by the Holy Father’s humility, humanness and simplicity in showing his solidarity with us bishops in our struggles and challenges as shepherds of our local dioceses,” added Abp Goh.

“It was like Paul and Barnabas, presenting themselves to Peter at the Council of Jerusalem. For us, it was the Local Church of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei presenting herself, her people and her progress and her questions to the Holy Father and the Prefects of the discasteries,” shared Bishop Bernard Paul of Melaka-Johore Diocese.

The arch/bishops celebrated the Eucharist at the Tomb of St Peter and the Basilica of St John Lateran.

This is, indeed, one of the most important Basilicas in Rome besides St Peter’s Basilica and St Mary Major. This is the Mother Church and the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father. It is also the oldest Church in Christendom because it was the first to be built by Emperor Constantine.

This Church is the symbol of unity among all Catholics in the world, sharing one faith, one hope and charity.

“Indeed, it is a great privilege and an awesome feeling to celebrate Mass at the Basilica. To know that we are connected with our Mother Church – ancient and yet ever new. One in thinking, praying, feeling and loving,” shared Abp Goh.

The arch/bishops also had the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist at the Church Sant’Alberto Magno, where Cardinal Soter Fernandez is the parish priest. Over the days of the Ad Limina, the bishops visited a number of dicasteries of the curia, which is like the different ministries of a government. Each of these dicasteries oversee many portfolios.

For example, the Dicastery for Promoting Human Development covers charitable organisations, health, social doctrines, faith and development, ecology and creation, refugees and migrants. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life takes care of the promotion and formation of the laity, family and life, youth, associations and ecclesial movements and women.

They also had a meeting with the Ambassador of Malaysia to the Holy See Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok and discussed matters related to promoting religious harmony and education.

Altogether, the three countries have some 1.45 million Catholics: 1,060,000 in Malaysia; 373,000 in Singapore and 18,000 in Brunei. – Herald Malaysia, 14 Feb 2018

The Church’s real challenges are in Asia, says Singapore prelate

ROME  – Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye of Singapore, discussed a number of issues with AsiaNews on 9 Feb 2018 after his meeting with Pope Francis Feb 8, issues like the reality of Asia, the life of the Church and religious harmony in Singapore, and his personal observations about Amoris Laetitia.

Nine years after the last ad limina visit in 2008, the 11 bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (BCMSB) visited the Vatican between 4 and 9 February, to visit the tombs of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and meet Pope Francis.

Born in Singapore in 1957, Abp Goh was ordained archdiocesan priest in 1985. For four years, he was assistant parish priest at the Holy Cross Church before travelling to Rome in 1992 to finish his studies in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Upon his return home, he taught and lectured at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary of (SFXMS) between 1992 and 2005.

In 2005, Fr Goh was appointed SFXMS rector and spiritual director of the Catholic Spiritual Centre, a position he held until his ordination as the fourth archbishop of Singapore in 2013. What follows is the first part (of three) of an interview with the prelate.

“The real challenges for the Catholic Church are here in Asia,” said Abp Goh, during his first ad limina visit to the Vatican as Archbishop of Singapore. “The Asian continent is different from all the others, since it is extremely varied in terms of religions, cultures and economic realities,” he added. In this context, Singapore stands out as a reality in its own right.

“It is a very particular Asian country, characterised by strong economic and technological progress, perhaps similar to South Korea and Hong Kong. Together with Malaysia and Brunei, it belongs to a Bishops’ Conference that brings together nations that face different political, economic and religious challenges.

“Singapore is a unique country, the expression of a cosmopolitan and highly educated society. More than 40 per cent of its residents have at least one university degree. About 75 per cent of the population is ethnic Chinese, but there are important Malay (13.5 per cent) and Indian (9 per cent) communities.”

One of the peculiarities that characterise the rich city-state is the relationship between the government and religion. “Unlike neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore has a secular government,” the prelate explained. “However, we like to define ourselves more as a ‘multicultural and multi-religious state’. The government is in fact secular in order to preserve the unity of the nation, but most ministers and officials profess a faith. The state is not against religion, but is in favour of it, seeing it as a fundamental component for the country’s development.

“The government provides important support to all religions, without favouritism. For example, it is customary to invite religious leaders to take part in numerous meetings and ask them for advice on issues affecting the country, especially from a moral and social point of view.”

“Some ministries, like the Ministry of the Family or the Ministry of Education, collaborate closely with religious leaders. Along with youth policies, these are the areas in which the government invites us to express opinions because we all work for the good of the country.”

The collaboration between the State and religions for the country’s development is also reflected in the archbishop’s personal involvement. “I was appointed presidential adviser for minority rights and religious harmony. Thanks to the work of governmental inter-ethnic and inter-religious bodies, there are frequent occasions for discussion and talks among all groups in Singapore’s cosmopolitan society. Our ability to live together peacefully, especially among different religions, is truly a miracle.

“Among the various initiatives, religious groups have set up a non-governmental organisation, the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), which provides a significant place for sharing different experiences of faith, this thanks to the important help from the government. All this makes Singapore a truly unique reality, where every religious problem is dealt with directly among religious leaders, even with a phone call. This is the beauty of our country, there are no conflicts,” the archbishop said.

“All religions are on the same level and do not exercise any political power. Instead, all the countries that surround Singapore have a dominant religion, favoured by their governments. When this happens, the tendency to discriminate against others is strong. Unlike what happens in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, religions in Singapore do not have political power and do not seek it. For this reason, dialogue is easier and the common goal is the good of the country.

“Whenever foreign delegations visit Singapore, they make sure to meet local religious leaders. Recently, even Prince Charles of England visited the country and held talks with leaders on how to promote religious harmony. In Singapore we try to be a model, but ultimately the problem of many countries is the mutual exploitation of religion and politics. This is why I believe that elsewhere our system may not be effective, ” Abp Goh noted.

The day before the interview, Abp Goh met Pope Francis along the bishops of Malaysia and Brunei. The archbishop said that these countries are very different from one another. For this reason, during the audience with the pontiff, the presentation of each took a long time. “As a result, there was little time for questions and observations,” the archbishop explained.

Still, “We managed to have a very meaningful talk,” Abp Goh said. “’Ask me all the questions you want, any! Even if you do not like the pope, you can tell me,” Pope Francis told us with the humility that is his trademark. He was present like a father and as such he listened to us.

“For my part, I asked him two questions that are close to my heart. First, I explained my curiosity about the efficiency of a structure organised around small dicasteries in the context of a universal institution to which billions of people belong. After, I asked for clarifications on the theme of communion for the divorced included in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s second apostolic exhortation.

“Many in the Church have doubts and are uncertain. Such confusion and division also frighten me, but the Holy Father told me: ‘Chapter VIII cannot be decontextualised. It is only the end of the exhortation. Chapter IV is more important, where its principles are explained. For Pope Francis, the question cannot be reduced to whether divorced people can receive communion or not?’ Rather, the question is: ‘How can we reach them, [and] assist them from a spiritual point of view?’ Unfortunately, sometimes there are different approaches between academics and those involved in grassroots pastoral outreach. Pope Francis belongs to the latter group.” – Paolo Fossati, AsiaNews

Pope Francis meets with Malaysian, Singapore and Brunei prelates

Pope Francis poses with prelates of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, who are on their “ad Limina Apostolorum” visit to Rome 4-9 Feb 2018.  The audience took place on Feb 8. L-R: Canossian Sr Margarete Sta Maria (secretary), Abp John Wong of Kota Kinabalu, Bishop Richard Ng of Miri, Abp Simon Poh of Kuching, Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei, Bishop Bernard Paul of Melaka-Johor, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang, Cardinal Soter Fernandez, Pope Francis, Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan, Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau, Abp William Goh of Singapore, Abp Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur, Abp Emeritus Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur, Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam of Penang, and Bishop Joseph Hii of Sibu.

VATICAN CITY – Fourteen Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei met with Pope Francis on 8 Feb 2018, on their “ad Limina Apostolorum” Visit.

The Holy See Press Office reported on the meeting in a press release on the same day.

Altogether, the three countries have some 1,174 million Catholics: 850,000 in Malaysia; 303,000 in Singapore and 21,000 in Brunei (Wikipedia data).

The Episcopal Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei reviews the position of the Church in these countries, and also carries out activities that include youth, medical care, and means of communication.


 On 27 July 2011, the Holy See and Malaysia established diplomatic relations between both States.

Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the State Secretariat, celebrated Holy Mass on 24 November 2017, in the new Apostolic Nunciature of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the day after its inauguration.


 –Monsignor John Wong Soo Kau, Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu.

–Monsignor Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau.

–Monsignor Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of Sandakan.

–Monsignor Julian Leow Beng Kim, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur with Archbishops Emeritus Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez and Monsignor Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam.

–Monsignor Anthony Bernard Paul, Bishop of Melaka-Johor.

–Monsignor Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang with Bishop Emeritus, Monsignor Antony Selvanayagam.

–Monsignor Simon Poh Hoon Seng, Archbishop of Kuching.

–Monsignor Richard Ng, Bishop of Miri.

–Monsignor Joseph Hii Teck Kwong, Bishop of Sibu.

–Monsignor William Seng Chye Goh, Archbishop of Singapore.

–Monsignor Cornelius Sim, Bishop of Puzia of Numidia, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei. – Zenit.org

Regional bishops to make ‘Ad Limina’ visit in February

File photo of the regional arch/bishops posing with the Pope Benedict XVI on 6 June 2008 in their ad limina visit 10 years ago, Vatican City.

PENAMPANG – Members of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei will make their ‘ad limina’ visit in Rome on 4-9 Feb 2018.

In a circular received by kkdiocese.net on Jan 4, Bishop Francis Sebastian of Penang, president of the bishops’ conference, asks for prayers from all the faithful in the three countries to pray for this event.

“…we wish for all Catholics, through prayer and solidarity, to feel a part of the Ad Limina visit, which confirms and celebrates that which we profess each week when we express our belief in the ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,’ the bishop writes.

The Ad Limina visit is formally called ‘ad limina apostolorum,’ which means ‘to the thresholds of the apostles’ Peter and Paul, who were martyred in Rome.

This visit is made by the Ordinaries of a Region (e.g. Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei), which include the cardinal, archbishops and bishops in charge of a diocese.

The visit consists of three parts:

  1. A personal visit to the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul.  It connects the present successor to the Apostles (bishops, archbishops, cardinal) to the two major Apostles credited with the spreading of the faith.
  2. A visit and interview with the Holy Father on Feb 8.  This is a time when the cardinal, archbishops and bishops renew their obedience and loyalty to Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, and receive his teaching in the form of a reflection and they render oral reports on the state of their individual arch/dioceses.
  3. A scheduled visit to the various offices of the Roman Curia, presenting the written report to the Secretariat of State.  Each diocese is sent a questionnaire of the information being requested by the Vatican.  This five-year report provides statistical and written descriptions of all the priests, deacons, religious and laity serving in the diocese; the state of the sacramental life of the diocese; the financial health of the diocese as a whole; the types of programmes being offered which can range from prison ministry to evangelisation to family life to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue; the process of Catholic education in Catholic Mission schools and parishes; evangelisation efforts to the active, inactive and unchurched; and the current status of our priestly vocations.  This report also presents the successes and challenges since the last report give

The last ad limina visit was made 10 years ago in June 2008.

The circular will be read at all Masses on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Jan 20-21.

Pope, top curia officials launch new style of ‘ad limina’ visit


Pope Francis meets with bishops from Chile during their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican Feb. 20. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For decades, the visits bishops are required to make to the Vatican were known for their formality and routine style, but Pope Francis launched “a whole new style of ‘ad limina’ visits,” a Chilean bishop said.

The bishops were expecting “to have a long meeting with a speech and then individual meetings,” as in the past, Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago, secretary of the Chilean bishops’ conference, told Catholic News Service on 24 Feb 2017.

Instead, the Vatican informed the prelates before their departure from Chile that they were going to have a group meeting with the pope and the prefects of several Vatican congregations and offices.

After spending three hours with the pope Feb 20, the Chilean bishops met again with Pope Francis Feb 23. At the second meeting, the pope and Chilean bishops were joined by several top officials, including: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Bishop Ramos told CNS that Cardinal Ouellet began the discussions, which focused on four principal themes: communion and collegiality within the church; the mission of the church in Chile; how to help clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity “in their Christian lives and in their pastoral service”; and pastoral guidelines for the future. – CNS

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