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Cardinal-designate Sebastian Francis of Penang, Malaysia.(Penang Diocese)

Malaysia’s new cardinal, Cardinal-designate Sebastian Francis of Penang, has said the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Synodality ought to be an open process in which all issues are discussed without fear, and warned against using labels that cause division. Source: Crux.

Cardinal-designate Francis said of the Synod, “as long as we don’t get into labels, and we don’t get into trying to divide,” things will be fine.

He pointed to labels such as “traditional, conservative, liberal, modern and contemporary”, urging Church members, “don’t get caught up in labels, and remember that the whole world is present, symbolically, and the whole world is listening”.

“The whole world is engaged in this process. So, to expect ready-made answers might be a bit naïve,” he said.

Noting that there has been controversy over topics such as women’s ordination and efforts to engage the LGBTQ+ community, including the approval of same-sex blessings, Cardinal-designate Francis said, “We should just let the Spirit lead and not avoid any issues that are burning, whatever those issues may be, and to allow everyone to speak and to wait for the outcome.”

“We are not looking for easy, simple solutions to whatever issues might be out there in the Church, but we are looking for a way of being Church itself … a Church that is open to welcome anyone, everyone, and deal with all the issues without feeling threatened by any issues,” he said.

Set to take place October 4-29, the Synod will reflect on the topic “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission” and will focus on how to transform Church life and structures to make it a more welcoming place for all of its members.

The final discussion will take place next year, in October 2024, following a year of reflection and discussion on the results of this year’s meeting.


New Malaysia cardinal cautions against fomenting division at synod (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)


New cardinal in Malaysia on his appointment: ‘There goes my privacy!’ (Crux)