Cardinal Sebastian Francis, the pride of Malaysian Roman Catholics

Malaysian Roman Catholics celebrating Penang Bishop Sebastian Francis’ appointment as a Cardinal at the St.Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sept 18, 2023. Photo courtesy of Dennis Au.

GEORGE TOWN: Roman Catholics in Malaysia and beyond have been beaming with gratitude and pride in giving thanks for a special gift from the Vatican recently.

Penang Bishop Sebastian Francis,71, has been elevated to the ranks of a Cardinal, a big honour and win for this country and Asia.

Many Malaysians had gathered at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sept 18 and waved the Jalur Gemilang as they carried the pride of all Catholics from the Penang Diocese and the rest of the country in celebrating the newly-minted cardinal who has noted for promoting inclusion and celebrating harmony and diversity.

Cardinal Sebastian Francis was born in Johor Bahru on Nov 11, 1951. Among his  major endeavours in his diocese was asking the Vatican to elevate St. Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam — founded in 1846 by French missionaries from the Missions Étrangères de Paris — to the status of minor basilica, the first in the region. The aim was to honour pilgrims of all nationalities, religions, beliefs, races and cultures who gather at the church, which attracts about a quarter of a million Catholics and non-Catholics for the annual July 26 pilgrimage.

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