Malaysia, Holy See to promote peaceful coexistence

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah with the outgoing Vatican ambassador to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and the Holy See can work together in areas where the concept of peaceful coexistence is important, said Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

This, he said was raised with the outgoing Vatican ambassador to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino.

It was suggested that both sides could organise roundtable discussions and interfaith dialogues in the future.

“This is not limiting the discussion on government-to-government relations but also brings in civil society and religious groups like the Friendship Group for Inter-Religious Service. This is the kind of togetherness we need to uphold and promote,” he said.

Saifuddin was speaking to reporters after the farewell hi-tea reception for the outgoing Vatican ambassador to Malaysia, hosted by Wisma Putra, here today.

He said peaceful coexistence and harmonious relations among the Malaysian people are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution but some people are misinterpreting this.

Saifuddin said the constitution’s fundamentals are strong and give sufficient space for Malaysians of different faiths to live and work together.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Joseph, who has been in Malaysia for six and a half years, said the Holy See would continue to collaborate with Malaysia on areas of mutual interest.

He thanked the government and the foreign ministry for the courtesy and friendship during his tenure in representing the Holy See in Malaysia.

“People ask me what I will miss most about Malaysia. I said it is the people of Malaysia because in my experience, during my stint in different countries, I find the Malaysian people truly gracious, kind, gentle, warm and welcoming with their lovely smiles.”

He said the people of Malaysia should preserve and protect the peaceful coexistence where other religions have the right to worship despite the majority of the population being Muslims.