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Synod of Bishops: CBCMSB Synod Synthesis Report

By Charles Bertille

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei (CBCMSB) consists of three countries under one conference, distinguishing it from most other conferences worldwide. Singapore is one state and one archdiocese; Brunei is an apostolic vicariate; and Malaysia consists of nine dioceses: three in Peninsula Malaysia (Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Diocese of Penang, Diocese of Malacca Johore), and six in Borneo of which three are in the state of Sarawak (Archdiocese of Kuching, Diocese of Miri and Diocese of Sibu), and three in the state of Sabah (Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Diocese of Keningau and Diocese of Sandakan).

The Process
The CBCMSB discussed the correspondence and instructions received from the Vatican, Rome, on the Synod at its conference in August 2021. Each diocese then launched the Synod on synodality around 17 October 2021, the week after its launch by Pope Francis in Rome. The Conference opined that each diocese is best left to their own initiative to understand the synod documents, craft questions and decide how to present these. In all dioceses, small teams were established and a synod contact person was appointed by the local bishop. Coordination at the national and Conference level was launched in late October. (8) priests, (1) sister, (1) lay woman and (2) laymen were appointed as diocese synod contact persons. The CBCMSB executive secretary – a lay person – was appointed overall coordinator.

The CBCMSB secretariat created a special page on its website to promote coordination, exchange of news, and sharing of resources from Rome and the local dioceses. The Malaysian Pre-Synod assembly was held successfully on July 11, Singapore had its on June 10-11, and Brunei on 19 April 2022.

A questionnaire based on the 10-point thematic nuclei from the Vademecum formed the basis for consultation in all the dioceses. The questions were diverse with varied modes of administration employed, including face-to-face and online surveys, and physical meetings with parish reps.

A synthesis report from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei is provided below from:

  • geographical frontiers – urban cities to rural interiors without adequate infrastructure or internet access;
  • existential peripheries – young people, women, children, Orang Asal and Asli, differently abled, LGBT, rural poor, and others;
  • various language & cultural groups – with different ways of perceiving the world, church and expression of needs;
  • diverse vocations & ministries – single, married or separated, clergy, religious, laity across various ministries.

You can read/download the full report here (A SYNTHESIS OF THE SYNODAL REPORTS MALAYSIA)