Kuala Lumpur (Fides Service) – “My mission is to fill broken hearts with the love and the mercy of God. Only a heart which has loved can know peace, harmony with neighbour, dialogue of life” said newly appointed Archbishop Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in a conversation with Fides. The Archbishop told us about his plans for his pastoral mission in an archdiocese with a mainly Muslim population of 8 million where Catholics are barely 100,000.
Archbishop Pakiam, formerly auxiliary, was appointed by the Pope on 24 May to succeed Mgr Anthony Soter Fernandez who resigned for health reasons. The new Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur (the third since the hierarchy was established in 1973) was installed with a solemn concelebration at St John’s Cathedral on May 29.
“My appointment came as a complete surprise, but I accept the responsibility given to me by the Holy Father and I will do my best to serve the community” Mgr Pakiam told Fides. “In my service I intend to continue the work begun by my predecessor. I was his auxiliary and so together we drew up a pastoral plan which I will strive to carry forward with the encouragement of the community. Our task is to live Charity and to bear witness to Christ not only as individual Catholics but also in our community dimension, building unity of clergy, religious, laity, individuals and families, in order to serve the entire society. In our multi-cultural and multi-religious society we must very often bear witness to Christ through our life-style, rather than direct proclamation of the Good News”.
With regard to Muslims, who are the majority in Malaysia, Archbishop Pakiam says: “We have good relations with our Muslim brothers, we have received a heritage of peace which we must safeguard by building harmony and tolerance. Today this represents for us both a challenge and an opportunity. As the head of the community I feel a great responsibility to strike a balance between my theological discourses and my life which must be filled with significant actions. I have before my eyes the shining example of the Holy Father who defends religious freedom, human life and human rights, the development of the excluded. We must take him as our model.”
Although many fear a resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism in the Far East, Archbishop Pakiam is optimistic; he says: “In Malaysia and nearby countries, trouble makers are only small groups. The majority do not agree with the fundamentalist view. In Malaysia the government has the situation well in hand and these groups are under control”.
As inspiration for his service the Archbishop takes the figure of Jesus the Good Shepherd and the Servant of God who “mends broken hearts and announces the loving mercy of God as the starting point for living and proclaiming peace and love through our own lives”. PA (Fides Service 4/6/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)