“The annual report is like a family album, and like any family album it will help us to get to know other family members, their respective situations, efforts and needs,” said Bishop Bernard Paul, president of the organization, in a letter introducing the report to LiCAS.news
The prelate said the journey of the Malaysian Church and its commitment to the social mission “can be traced back to the early missionaries” and to the establishment of the Catholic welfare service offices in Sabah, Sarawak and Semenanjung.
“We pray that [the report] will eventually become ‘our’ family story – a chronicle of our shared heritage, which we can share widely with all, with joy,” wrote Bishop Paul.
Caritas Malaysia is the official arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia. It engages in works of charity, relief, integral human development, care for creation and social services.
It was established last year following the unanimous decision of the country’s Catholic bishops during its meeting in January 2020.
“As a member of the Caritas family, the bishops felt the Malaysian Church would benefit from Caritas’ capacity building, regional networking, and professional expertise,” read the organization’s report.
Caritas Malaysia is a network of nine diocesan Caritas and national office with affiliates from congregations and other Catholic organizations engaged in the field of charity and integral development at a national level.
“We seek to work with communities, non-governmental organizations, and local authorities to promote an inclusive and sustainable development for all,” the group wrote on its website.
Its mission statement said it is “inspired by the Gospels and the teachings of the Catholic Church” as it responds “to humanitarian crises, promote integral human development and advocate on the causes of poverty and violence.”
“We animate Catholic communities and all people of good will in solidarity with their suffering brothers, sisters and creation,” it said, adding that it also works “to ensure that our natural environment is managed responsibly and sustainably for all.”
Caritas Malaysia’s latest report captures the efforts of the pan-Malaysian Church across the three regions – Sabah, Sarawak, Semenjung – to serve the poor and various vulnerable groups, especially during the pandemic.
Bishop Paul said that the setting-up of a national office and its decision to join the Caritas federation “is an attempt by the Malaysian bishops to consolidate the Church’s efforts in social ministries, to strengthen its capacity, and take it to another level – a more visible presence of the church in the marketplace.”
“We hope that coming together and working together gradually helps us to realize that we have a shared identity and mission – we cannot be Malaysians without one another – and being Church is inclusive of all,” said the bishop.
Since its establishment, Caritas Malaysia has already launched various initiatives to address the most pressing issues in the country, including the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.