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Wednesday, July 27, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See and Malaysia, desirous of promoting bonds of mutual friendship, have decided by common accord to establish diplomatic relations at the level of apostolic nunciature on the part of the Holy See and of embassy on the part of Malaysia.

A communique published today explains that Malaysia is the 179th nation to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The country has a surface area of 329,750 square kilometres and a multi-racial and multi-cultural population of 28,306,700. The religion of State is Islam, professed by 60.4 percent of the inhabitants. The next largest religious group is the Buddhists (19.2 percent), followed by Christians (9.1 percent), Hindus (6.3 percent), Chinese religions (2.6 percent) and Animists (2.4 percent).

The Catholic Church has had a presence in the country since 1511, when the first Portuguese missionaries reached Malacca. St. Francis Xavier also arrived in that city in 1545. Today the Church has nine ecclesiastical circumscriptions centred on the archdioceses of Kuala Lumpur (on the peninsula) and of Kuching and of Kota Kinabalu (on the island of Borneo). There are eleven bishops, 274 diocesan priests, 119 regular priests, 123 male religious, 759 female religious and 270 major seminarians. Catholics number 850,720, around three percent of the population.

The Catholic Church, the communique explains, is active in evangelisation and in the pastoral care of families and young people. While fully respecting people's cultural and religious identity, she works in the fields of education, charity and social work, running numerous primary and secondary schools, as well as institutions for the poor and for migrant workers. Initiatives exist to promote social harmony and reconciliation among the various religious communities, through dialogue, equality of rights and duties, and mutual respect.

The apostolic delegation to Malaysia was created on 2 February 1998 and has existed until now.

On 18 July Benedict XVI received Najib Bin Abdul Razak, prime minister of Malaysia, in audience at the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo. During that meeting agreement was reached to establish diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Manoel dos Reis de Farias of Patos, Brazil, as bishop of Petrolina (area 15,622, population 421,836, Catholics 337,468, priests 36, religious 67), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Paulo Cardoso da Silva O. Carm., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same bishop the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Ivo Muser of the clergy of the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, Italy, dean of the cathedral chapter in Bressanone, as bishop of the same diocese (area 7,400, population 500,030, Catholics 485,029, priests 700, permanent deacons 18, religious 800). The bishop-elect was born in Brunico, Italy in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Karl Gosler, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Msgr. Gilson Andrade da Silva of the clergy of the diocese of Petropolis, Brazil, rector of the diocesan seminary "Nossa Senhora do Amor Divino", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia (area 3,859, population 3,210,878, Catholics 2,284,477, priests 283, permanent deacons 93, religious 1,070), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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