KUALA LUMPUR: Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See have been further strengthened with the opening of its official chancery here.
The inauguration of the Nunciature’s Residence and Chancery at Taman U-Thant follows the setting up of ties between both sides in 2011.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who represented Pope Francis, said the new chancery was made possible with support from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia and “those convinced of the importance of establishing the permanent site of the Apostolic Nunciature in Malaysia”.
“To all, I express His Holiness’ heartfelt gratitude. This structure symbolises the friendly ties between Malaysia and the Holy See,” he said.
An Apostolic Nunciature is a top-level diplomatic mission of the Holy See, equivalent to an embassy. However, it does not issue visas nor does it have consulates.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, who represented the Government, said the opening of the permanent site proved that Malaysia’s relations with the Holy See were improving.
“Malaysia has a thriving Catholic community which, along with other existing religious communities in Malaysia, is free to profess and practise its religion.
“Our Prime Minister and Government have always been committed to safeguarding the welfare of every religious community in the country, including the Catholic faithful,” he said.
Reezal Merican said the Government took a positive step in setting up diplomatic relations with the Holy See, which culminated in Tan Sri Bernard Dompok being posted as Malaysia’s first resident ambassador to the Vatican in March 2016.
Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino said he hoped that excellent relations between both sides would continue to grow.