July 9, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- The Pope meets clergy in the shrine of El Quinche and bids farewell to Ecuador

- “Jallalla Bolivia!”

- The Pope prays at the site of Fr. Luis Espinal's assassination

- To the civil authorities of Bolivia: Francis calls for an integral ecology

- Other Pontifical Acts

The Pope meets clergy in the shrine of El Quinche and bids farewell to Ecuador

Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis visit to Ecuador concluded yesterday with two events. The first was his visit to the Missionaries of Charity rest home for the elderly, located 21 kilometres from the capital Quito, and close to the highway leading to the airport. The Holy Father was received by the Superior, who accompanied him to the chapel in the Centre to pray with the rest of the small community of ten brethren, and subsequently greeted the residents, around seventy people, in the courtyard. He did not pronounce a discourse, but simply expressed his closeness to the elderly present.

The Pope then transferred to the National Marian shrine of El Quinche, home of the wooden image of the Virgin of El Quinche, carved at the end of the sixteenth century by the artist Diego de Robles, and which in the second week of November attracts more than 800,000 faithful who depart from the village of Calderon on a nocturnal pilgrimage, reaching the church at dawn.

In El Quinche, the last of Pope Francis' visits in Ecuador, he met with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. He handed the discourse he had prepared for the occasion (reproduced below) to Bishop Celmo Lazzari C.S.I., representative for consecrated life in the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, and made some unscripted comments to those present, highlighting the spiritual richness that he had encountered in Ecuador and asking all to remember the importance of gratuity and service in life.

“All this wealth you have – spiritual wealth, piety, depth – comes from having had the courage, as there have been some very difficult moments, to consecrate the nation to the Heart of Christ”, said the Pope, “this divine and human Heart that loves us so much. And afterwards, a few years later, the consecration to the Heart of Mary. Do not forget: this consecration is a milestone in the history of the people of Ecuador.

“Today I am to speak to the priests, seminarians, women and men religious, and to say something to them. I thought about the Virgin, I thought about Mary … Mary never took centre stage. She was a disciple all through her life. The first disciple of her Son. And she was aware that everything she had was due to the pure gratuity of God. She was aware of this gratuity. Therefore, men and women religious, priests, seminarians, in all the days to come, take the path back to the gratuitousness with which God chose you. … We are subject to God's gratuitousness. If we forget this, slowly, we gradually move away from the basis from which Mary never wavered: God's gratuitousness.

“A second thing I wanted to say to you is to take care of your health, but most of all take care not to fall into a sort of spiritual Alzheimer's: do not lose your memory, especially the memory of where you are from. St. Paul intuited this danger, and to his dearest son, the bishop Timothy, to whom he gave pastoral counsel, he said: 'Do not forget the faith of your grandmother and your mother'. That is, 'Do not forget where you come from, do not forget your roots, do not feel as if you have been promoted'. Gratuity is a grace that cannot co-exist with promotion and, when a priest, a seminarian, a man or woman religious, embarks upon a career – a human career – he or she begins to sicken with spiritual Alzheimer's and begins to lose the memory of where he or she is from”.

Francis suggested two basic principles to the priests and consecrated persons. “Every day, renew the feeling that everything is free, the feeling of the gratuity with which each one of you was chosen – none of us deserved this – and ask for the grace of not losing your memory, of not feeling more important. And these two principles will revive two attitudes. First, that of service. God chose me, but why? To serve … and there is nothing else, to serve when we are tired, when people annoy us. … An old priest, who was a genius all his life, said to me, 'the holy faithful People of God are essentially Olympian, or rather, they do what they want, and can be ontologically tiresome'. And this contains much wisdom, as taking the path of service means allowing oneself to be troubled without losing patience.

“Service, mixed with gratuity and then … that of Jesus: 'Freely you have received; freely give'. Please, please,” he repeated, “do not expect something in return; please, let your ministry be freely given. And the second attitude … is that of joy and cheer. And it is a gift from Jesus … that He gives to us if we ask for it and if we do not forget these two pillars of our priestly or religious life: the sense of gratuity and not losing the memory of where we come from. May God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you. And please, please, I ask you to pray for me, as I am very often tempted to forget the gratuity with which God chose me and of forgetting where I come from. Pray for me”.

The following is the written discourse the Pope gave to the bishop:

“I place at the feet of Our Lady of Quinche the vivid experiences of my visit. I entrust to her heart the elderly and the sick whom I visited in the house of the Sisters of Charity, as well as the other meetings I have had. I entrust all of them to Mary’s heart; but at the same time I commend them to the hearts of each you, the priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. As those called to labour in the vineyard of the Lord, may you be protectors of all the experiences, the joys and sorrows of the Ecuadorian people. I thank Bishop Lazzari, Father Mina and Sister Sandoval for their words, which lead me to share some thoughts on our common concern for God’s People.

“In the Gospel, the Lord invites us to accept our mission without placing conditions. It is an important message which we must never forget. Here, in this Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of the Presentation, it resounds in a special way. Mary is an example of discipleship for us who, like her, have received a vocation. Her trusting response, 'Be it done unto me according to your word', reminds us of her words at the wedding feast of Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you'. Her example is an invitation to serve as she served.

“In the Presentation of the Virgin we find some suggestions for our own call. The child Mary was a gift from God to her parents and to all her people who were looking for liberation. This is something we see over and over again in the Scriptures. God responds to the cry of his people, sending a little child to bring salvation and to restore hope to elderly parents. The word of God tells us that, in the history of Israel, judges, prophets and kings are God’s gifts to his people, bringing them his tenderness and mercy. They are signs of God’s gratuitousness. It is he has chose them, who personally chose them and sent them. Realising this helps us to move beyond our self-centredness and to understand that we no longer belong to ourselves, that our vocation calls us to let go of all selfishness, all seeking of material gain or emotional rewards, as the Gospel has told us. We are not hired workers, but servants. We have not come to be served, but to serve, and we do so with complete detachment, without walking stick or bag.

“Some traditions about devotion to Our Lady of Quinche relate that Diego de Robles made the image after being commissioned by the indigenous Lumbici people. Diego did not do this out of piety, but for economic benefit. Since the Lumbici were unable to pay him, he brought the image to Oyacachi and exchanged it for cedar planks. But Diego ignored their earnest plea that he also make an altar for the image, until, after falling from his horse and in danger of death, he felt the protection of the Virgin Mary. So he went back to the town and built the foot of the image. All of us have had the experience of a God who brings us to the cross, who calls us in the midst of our faults and failings. May pride and worldliness not make us forget what God has rescued us from! May the Our Lady of Quinche make us leave behind ambition, selfish interests, and excessive concern about ourselves!

“The 'authority' which the Apostles receive from Jesus is not for their own benefit: our gifts are meant to be used to renew and build up the Church. Do not refuse to share, do not hesitate to give, do not be caught up in your own comforts, but be like a spring which spills over and refreshes others, especially those burdened by sin, disappointment and resentment.

“Something else that Our Lady’s Presentation makes me think of is perseverance. In the evocative iconography associated with this feast, the Child Mary is shown moving away from her parents as she climbs the steps of the Temple. Mary does not look back and, in a clear reference to the evangelical admonition, she moves forward with determination. We, like the disciples in the Gospel, also need to move forward as we bring to all peoples and places the Good News of Jesus. Perseverance in mission is not about going from house to house, looking for a place where we will be more comfortably welcomed. It means casting our lot with Jesus to the end. Some stories of the apparition of Our Lady of Quinche speak of 'a woman with a child in her arms' who appeared on several successive evenings to the natives of Oyacachi when they were fleeing from attacks by bears. Mary kept appearing to her children, but they didn’t believe her, they didn’t trust this woman, even though they admired her perseverance in coming each evening at sunset. To persevere even though we are rejected, despite the darkness and growing uncertainty and dangers – this is what we are called to do, in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God’s Holy People walks with us.

“In some sense, the image of the child Mary ascending the steps of the Temple reminds us of the Church, which accompanies and supports every missionary disciple. Mary is with her parents, who handed on to her the memory of the faith and now generously offer her to the Lord so that she can follow in his way. She is part of a community, represented by the 'maiden companions' who escort her with lamps alight; in those companions the Fathers of the Church saw a foreshadowing of all those who, in imitation of Mary, seek wholeheartedly to become friends of God. Finally, she is received by the waiting priests, who remind us that the Church’s pastors must welcome everyone with tender love and help to discern every spirit and every calling.

“So let us walk together, helping one another, as we humbly implore the gift of perseverance in God’s service. The apparition of Our Lady of Quinche was a moment of encounter, of communion, so that this place which from Incan times has been a place where people of various ethnicities have settled. How beautiful it is when the Church perseveres in her efforts to be a house and a school of communion, when we cultivate what I like to call “the culture of encounter”! The image of Our Lady’s Presentation tells us that, after being blessed by the priests, the child Mary began to dance at the foot of the altar. I think of the joy expressed in the imagery of the wedding feast, of the friend of the bridegroom, of the bride bedecked with her jewels. It is the happiness of all those who have discovered a treasure and left everything behind in order to gain it. To find the Lord, to dwell in his house, to share in his life, commits us to proclaiming his Kingdom and bringing his salvation to all. Crossing the threshold of the Temple means becoming, like Mary, temples of the Lord and setting out to bring the good news to our brothers and sisters. Our Lady, as the first missionary disciple, once she had received the message of the angel, left with haste to a town of Judah to share this incredible joy, which led St. John the Baptist to leap in his mother’s womb. The one who hears the Lord’s voice 'leaps with joy' and becomes for his or her own time a herald of his joy. The joy of evangelisation leads the Church to go forth, like Mary.

“There are many reasons offered for the translation of the shrine from Oyacachi to this place. There is one which I find particularly convincing: 'for many people, this place has always been easier to reach'. That was the idea of the Archbishop of Quito, Fray Luis Lopez de Solis, when he ordered the building of a shrine capable of attracting and embracing everyone. A Church on the move is a Church which is close to people, overcoming obstacles, leaving its own comfort behind and daring to reach out to the peripheries which need the light of the Gospel.

“Let us now turn to the tasks which await us, urged on by the holy people which God has entrusted to our care. Among those tasks, let us not neglect to care for, encourage and guide the popular devotions which are so powerfully felt in this holy place and which are widespread in the countries of Latin America. The faithful express the faith in their own language, and they show their deepest feelings of sadness, uncertainty, joy, failure, and thanksgiving in various devotions: processions, votive lights, flowers, and hymns. All of these are beautiful expressions of their faith in the Lord and their love for his Mother, who is also our Mother.

“Here in Quinche, the story of God and man converge in the life of one woman, Mary. They come together in one home, our common home, our sister, mother earth. The traditions of this devotion speak of cedar trees, bears, the crevasse in the rock which here became the first home of the Mother of God. They speak to us of a 'yesterday' when birds surrounded this place, and of a 'today' of flowers which adorn its surroundings. The origins of this devotion bring us back to a time of simple and 'serene harmony with creation', when one could contemplate 'the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence ‘must not be contrived but found, uncovered'. God’s presence is revealed in the created world, in his beloved Son, and in the Eucharist which enables each Christian to know him or her self as living members of the Church and an active participant in her mission. And it is present in Our Lady of Quinche, who from the first proclamation of the faith until our own day has accompanied the indigenous peoples. To her we entrust our vocation; may she make us a gift to our people; may she grant us perseverance in our commitment and in the joy of going forth to bring the Gospel of her Son Jesus, together with our shepherds, to the fringes, the peripheries of our beloved Ecuador”.

“Jallalla Bolivia!”

Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis began the second leg of his trip in Latin America yesterday, as he arrived at El Alto airport, the highest on the planet, situated at more than four thousand metres above sea level, in La Paz, Bolivia, where he was awaited by the president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, the country's first leader to come from the indigenous population (Wru-Aimara), whom the Holy Father met in the Vatican during the First World Meeting of Popular Movements, organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” in October 2014.

In his first discourse in Bolivia, the Holy Father affirmed that he came “as a guest and a pilgrim … to confirm the faith of those who believe in the Risen Christ, so that, during our pilgrimage on earth, we believers may be witnesses of his love, leaven for a better world and co-operators in the building of a more just and fraternal society”. After thanking President Morales for his “warm and fraternal welcome”, he greeted the religious and civil authorities, adding, “I think in a special way of the sons and daughters of this land who for a variety of reasons have had to seek 'another land' to shelter them; another place where this earth can allow them to be fruitful and find possibilities in life”.

The Pope also expressed his joy in encountering a land of such singular beauty, as declared in the preamble of its Constitution: “In ancient times the mountains arose, rivers changed course and lakes were formed. Our Amazonia, our wetlands and our highlands, and our plains and valleys were decked with greenery and flowers”. “It makes me realise once again that 'rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise'. But above all, Bolivia is a land blessed in its people. It is home to a great cultural and ethnic variety, which is at once a great source of enrichment and a constant summons to mutual respect and dialogue. There are the ancient aboriginal peoples and the more recent native peoples. The Spanish language brought to this land now happily co-exists with thirty-six native languages, which come together – like the red and yellow in the national flowers of Kantuta and Patuju – to create beauty and unity in diversity. In this land and people, the proclamation of the Gospel took deep root, and through the years it has continued to shed its light upon society, contributing to the development of the nation and shaping its culture”.

“Bolivia is making important steps towards including broad sectors in the country’s economic, social and political life. Your constitution recognises the rights of individuals, minorities and the natural environment, and provides for institutions to promote them. To achieve these goals a spirit of civic cooperation and dialogue is required, as well as the participation of individuals and social groups in issues of interest to everyone. The integral advancement of a nation demands an ever greater appreciation of values by individuals and their growing convergence with regard to common ideals to which all can work together, no one being excluded or overlooked. A growth which is merely material will always run the risk of creating new divisions, of the wealth of some being built on the poverty of others. Hence, in addition to institutional transparency, social unity requires efforts to promote the education of citizens.

“In days to come, I would like to encourage the vocation of Christ’s disciples to share the joy of the Gospel, to be salt for the earth and light to the world. The voice of the bishops, which must be prophetic, speaks to society in the name of the Church, our Mother, from her preferential, evangelical option for the poor. Fraternal charity, the living expression of the new commandment of Jesus, is expressed in programs, works and institutions which work for the integral development of the person, as well as for the care and protection of those who are most vulnerable. We cannot believe in God the Father without seeing a brother or sister in every person, and we cannot follow Jesus without giving our lives for those for whom he died on the cross.

The Pope also touched on the theme of the family in his first discourse, emphasising that “in an age when basic values are often neglected or distorted, the family merits special attention on the part of those responsible for the common good, since it is the basic cell of society. Families foster the solid bonds of unity on which human coexistence is based, and, through the bearing and education of children, they ensure the renewal of society”.

He continued, “the Church also feels a special concern for young people who, committed to their faith and cherishing great ideals, are the promise of the future, 'watchmen to proclaim the light of dawn and the new springtime of the Gospel'. To care for children, and to help young people to embrace noble ideals, is a guarantee of the future of society. A society discovers renewed strength when it values, respects and cares for its elderly, when it chooses to foster a 'culture of remembrance' capable of ensuring that the elderly not only enjoy quality of life in their final years but also affection, as your Constitution puts it so well”.

Addressing those present, he added, “in these days we can look forward to moments of encounter, dialogue and the celebration of faith. I am pleased to be here, in a country which calls itself pacifist, a country which promotes the culture of peace and the right to peace”.

Finally, he entrusted his visit to the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Copacabana, Queen of Bolivia, and concluded by exclaiming “Jallalla Bolivia!”, an Aimara word meaning “life” and “hope”.

The Pope prays at the site of Fr. Luis Espinal's assassination

Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) – During his trip from the El Alto airport to the archbishopìs residence at La Paz, the Pope paused to bless the place where on 21 March 1980 the Spanish Jesuit Luis Espinal Camps, poet, journalist and filmmaker, was assassinated. Fr. Espinal, who lived alongside the families of miners during their struggle under the dictatorship of Luis Garcia Meza, one of the bloodiest periods in Bolivia's history, was arrested by paramilitaries, the armed wing of power, on 21 March 1980. His body was discovered the following day on the path to Chacaltaya. His murder caused profound shock throughout the country and his funeral, on 24 March in La Paz, was attended by multitudes. In 2007 President Evo Morales declared 21 March “Bolivian Cinema Day”, to commemorate the assassination of Fr. Espinal, in homage to his struggle in favour of human rights and democracy and to acknowledge his contribution to Bolivian cinematography.

Upon reaching the eighth kilometre of the Chacaltaya highway, where a number of people were gathered, the Holy Father left the car and said: “Good afternoon, dear sisters and brothers. I stop here to greet you and, above all, to remember. To remember a brother of ours, the victim of those who did not want him to fight for freedom in Bolivia. Fr. Espinal preached the Gospel, and this Gospel troubled them, so they eliminated him. Let us spend a moment in silent prayer, and then let us pray together”.

After a moment's silence, the Pope added, “May the Lord receive in His glory Fr. Luis Espinal, who preached the Gospel, the Gospel that brings us freedom, that sets us free. Like every child of God, Jesus brought us this freedom, and he preached this Gospel. May Jesus keep him with Him. May the Lord grant him eternal repose and may endless light shine for him. May he rest in peace”.

“And to all of you, dear brothers, May the Lord Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you. And please, I ask you, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you”.

To the civil authorities of Bolivia: Francis calls for an integral ecology

Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis arrived at the archbishop's residence at La Paz, surrounded by the thousands of people who followed him from the airport to the Bolivian capital. Following a brief rest, the Holy Father transferred by popemobile to the seat of the government where he paid a courtesy visit to President Evo Morales, who introduced his family and colleagues.

The Pope then walked from the government building to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, an imposing structure built in the mid-nineteenth century, whose facade blends neo-Classical and Baroque elements and which is able to hold a thousand people. There, he met with the civil authorities and the Pope pronounced a discourse, published below, in which he focused on the importance of an integral ecology, of the participation of all social strata for the common good, and the family, reiterating the need to “build bridges rather than erect walls”.

“I am pleased to meet you, the political and civil authorities of Bolivia, the members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives of the nation’s cultural institutions and volunteer organisations. I am grateful to Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor of La Paz for his kind welcome. With your permission, I would like to offer a few words of encouragement in support of your work.

“Each of us here shares a calling to work for the common good. Fifty years ago, Vatican Council II defined the common good as the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment. I thank you for striving – in your work and your mission – to enable individuals and society to develop and find fulfilment. I am certain that you seek what is beautiful, true and good in your service of the common good. May your efforts contribute to the growth of greater respect for the human person, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development, and social peace, namely, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice. Put simply, wealth is to be distributed.

“On the way to this Cathedral I was able to admire the peaks of Hayna Potosi, the 'young mountain', and Illimani, the mountain which shows 'the place where the sun rises'. I also saw the ingenious way in which many houses and neighbourhoods blend with the hillsides, and was struck by the architecture of some of these structures. The natural environment is closely related to social, political and economic environment. It is urgent for all of us to lay the foundations of an integral ecology, one capable of respecting all these human dimensions in resolving the grave social and environmental issues of our time. Otherwise, the glaciers of those mountains will continue to recede, and our sense of gratitude and responsibility with regard to these gifts, our concern for the world we want to leave to future generations, for its meaning and values, will melt just like those glaciers.

“Because everything is related, we need one another. If politics is dominated by financial speculation, or if the economy is ruled solely by a technocratic and utilitarian paradigm concerned with maximum production, we will not grasp, much less resolve, the great problems of humanity. Cultural life has an important role to play in this regard, for it has to do not only with the development of the mind through the sciences and the creation of beauty through the arts, but also esteem for the local traditions of a people, which are so expressive of the milieu in which they arose and to which they give meaning. There is also need for an ethical and moral education which can cultivate solidarity and shared responsibility between individuals. We should acknowledge the specific role of the religions in the development of culture and the benefits which can they can bring to society. Christians in particular, as disciples of the Good News, are bearers of a message of salvation which has the ability to ennoble and to inspire great ideals. In this way it leads to ways of acting which transcend individual interest, readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of others, sobriety and other virtues which develop in us the ability to live as one. These virtues are expressed very simply in your culture as three commandments: do not lie, do not steal, and do not be lazy.

“It is so easy for us to become accustomed to the atmosphere of inequality all around us, with the result that we take it for granted. Without even being conscious of it, we confuse the 'common good' with 'prosperity', especially when we are the ones who enjoy that prosperity. Prosperity understood only in terms of material wealth has a tendency to become selfish, to defend private interests, to be unconcerned about others, and to give free rein to consumerism. Understood in this way, prosperity, instead of helping, breeds conflict and social disintegration; as it becomes more prevalent, it opens the door to the evil of corruption, which brings so much discouragement and damage in its wake. The common good, on the other hand, is much more than the sum of individual interests. It moves from 'what is best for me' to 'what is best for everyone'. It embraces everything which brings a people together: common purpose, shared values, ideas which help us to look beyond our limited individual horizons.

“Different social groups have a responsibility to work for unity and the development of society. Freedom is always the best environment for thinkers, civic associations and the communications media to carry out their activities with passion and creativity in service of the common good. Christians too, are called to be a leaven within society, to bring it their message. The light of Christ’s Gospel is not the property of the Church; the Church is at the service of the Gospel, so that it can reach the ends of the earth. Faith is a light which does not blind or confuse, but one which illuminates and respectfully guides the consciences and history of every person and society. Christianity has played an important role in shaping the identity of the Bolivian people. Religious freedom – a phrase we often encounter in civil discourse – also reminds us that faith cannot be restricted to a purely subjective experience. It also challenges us to help foster the growth of spirituality and Christian commitment in social projects.

“Among the various social groups, I would like to mention in particular the family, which is everywhere threatened by domestic violence, alcoholism, sexism, drug addiction, unemployment, urban unrest, the abandonment of the elderly, and children left to the streets. These problems often meet with pseudo-solutions which show the clear effects of an ideological colonisation. ... So many social problems are quietly resolved in the family; the failure to assist families would leave those who are most vulnerable without protection.

“A nation which seeks the common good cannot be closed in on itself; societies are strengthened by networks of relationships. The current problem of immigration makes this clear. These days it is essential to improve diplomatic relations between the countries of the region, in order to avoid conflicts between sister peoples and to advance frank and open dialogue about their problems. Instead of raising walls, we need to be building bridges. All these issues, thorny as they may be, can find solutions which are shared, reasonable, equitable and lasting. And in any event, they should never be a cause for aggressivity, resentment or enmity; these only worsen situations and stand in the way of their resolution.

“Bolivia is at an historic crossroads: politics, the world of culture, the religions are all part of this beautiful challenge to grow in unity. In this land whose history has been marred by exploitation, greed and so many forms of selfishness and sectarianism, now is the time for integration. Today Bolivia can 'create new forms of cultural synthesis'. How beautiful are those cities which overcome paralysing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! How attractive it is when those cities are full of spaces which connect, relate and favour the recognition of others!'. Bolivia in its process of integration and its search for unity, is called to be an example of such 'multifaceted and inviting harmony'.

“I thank you for your attention. I pray to the Lord that Bolivia, 'this innocent and beautiful land”, may make ever greater progress towards being 'the happy homeland whose people enjoy the blessings of good fortune and peace'. May the Blessed Virgin watch over you, and the Lord bless you abundantly. Please remember me in your prayers. Thank you”.

The Pope then returned to El Alto airport, to continue his trip in Santa Cruz de la Sierra where today, 9 July, he will preside at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Fifth National Eucharistic Council, meet with priests, religious and seminarians, and give an address to conclude the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Simon Poh Hoon Seng as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Kuching (area 19,173, population 1,216,000, Catholics 192,569, priests 37, religious 82), Malaysia. The bishop-elect was born in Sri Aman, Malaysia in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in missiology from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome, and has served in a number of roles in the archdiocese of Kuching, including parish vicar, parish priest, director of the Commission for Vocations and spiritual counsellor for the Commission for Youth. He is currently chancellor of the archdiocese and member of the college of consultors, lecturer in missiology and spiritual director of the St. Peter's College major seminary in Kuching, coordinator of the archdiocesan commission “Mission and Evangelisation”, coordinator of the Human Development Commission, and parish priest of the Cathedral of Kuching.

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