Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez, 84, was officially installed as the first Cardinal of Malaysia last Saturday (November 19).
The installation was made by Pope Francis during an event called, “Consistory” at St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican and marked a historical milestone for Malaysia and its one million Catholic community.
Malaysia’s first ambassador to The Holy See, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, in a statement, said the installation was an elevation of one of Malaysia’s own to the College of Cardinals which marked the ‘coming of age’ of Catholicism in the country.
“Coming hot on the heels of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Holy See and Malaysia as well as the setting up of the country’s embassy at Vatican City.
“It also augurs well for the Malaysia’s readiness to be an active participant in the worldwide conversation on religious harmony,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s role in the promotion of Global Movement of Moderates did not go unnoticed in Rome, Italy.
The surprise announcement was made on October 9 by Pope Francis during his weekly Sunday address at the Vatican that saw 13 cardinals under the age of 80 and four cardinals over the age of 80 being elevated to the rank.
According to the statement, Cardinal Fernandez’s appointment continued to demonstrate the pontiff’s preference for the peripheries and places not previously represented in the College of Cardinals.
Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Vatican were formally established on July 27, 2011.
Source : Bernama Online