“When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others, and seek their welfare, our hearts are opened wider to God.” – Archbishop Pakiam, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
As part of the series of blogs written to bring forward universal expressions of “service”, we would like to have the Catholic perspective as presented by Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, third metropolitan archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Archbishop Pakiam spoke during the Interfaith Forum prior to the Global Peace Convention 2013 entitled “Faith Leadership for the Greater Good”.
The Malaysian Insider reported Archbishop Pakiam quoting a recent statement issued by Pope Francis I that states, “Lasting peace did not arise from a negotiated settlement, but rather from the conviction that unity is brought about by the spirit of God which can harmonize every diversity.” Archbishop Pakiam comments, “He does not suggest a syncretism of religions, but a clear and joyful reliance one’s own religious identity and acceptance of a healthy pluralism.”
According to Archbishop Pakiam, crucial to one’s religious practice is to “behave like brothers and sisters towards people who are created in the image of God.” Archbishop Pakiam presented programs that he has implemented in his diocese that have encouraged such behavior.
One such endeavor is encouraging ministers of communion, who traditionally visit inbound parishioners with communion, to visit non-Catholic neighbors “bringing their compassion, companionship, and consolation.”
He recounted a testimony of a communion minister from a remote area who visits a local Malay Muslim woman who’s husband is bedridden from a stroke. Every week the minister helps the wife bath, powder and cloth the husband. Archbishop Pakiam comments, “This is an example of holiness, of a spirituality that reaches out to others who are in need.”
Archbishop Pakiam has also encouraged Catholics in his diocese to become active members in their communities. During Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, he asks that local small groups to expand their distribution of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards to mothers and fathers of Sheiks, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Taoists. “Why?” he asks? “Because we celebrate God’s gift of motherhood and fatherhood. “
During national holidays, there is a practice of Rumah Terbuka or “Open house” in Malaysia. Malaysians welcome every person into their home as family. Archbishop Pakiam has encouraged Catholics to visit neighbors during Rumah Terbuka rather than go on family outings or hold Church functions. “This effort to go out, to greet them in that friendly way, builds community.”
In his closing statement, Archbishop Pakiam remarked, “When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others, and seek their welfare, our hearts are opened wider to God.”
He observed that the great religions share a common tune, of which one shared note is the call for people of faith to serve humanity, despite differences of religion, culture or race.
Below is the session “Faith Leadership for the Greater Good”. Archbishop Pakiam speaks at 00.56.31.