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Cardinal Soter Fernandez left an indelible mark on Malaysia

Cardinal Soter Fernandez in 2015 - Photo: Anil Netto

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JD Lovrenciear pays tribute to a humble priest who believed in authentic human development, social justice and interfaith dialogue.

“Truly my soul silently awaits for God; from Him comes my salvation” (Psalms 62:1)

As news of Cardinal Antony Soter Fernandez’s passing broke soon after noon today, thousands of people who knew this humble pastor took to social media.

Here was a man, a priest, a citizen who won the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of people with his trademark humility, simplicity and steadfastness.

Catholics, other Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and those of other faiths had come to recognise this bubbly, ever smiling, saintly man for his passion for justice, peace, understanding and acceptance of all of humanity.

From a humble priest, he rose to the tough calling of being a bishop, archbishop and finally Malaysia’s first cardinal.

The lessons he has left us all – people of all faiths and creeds – must not go to waste, especially in a climate where racial divisiveness and religious bigotry are sometimes manipulated to gain power and control.

The late cardinal has set a benchmark that should not be lost. We must build on his lessons on interfaith living to bring us all more closely together in a spirit of mutual respect and acceptance.

Let us in prayer remember this gift to all Malaysians. Let us in life’s journey be constantly reminded of Cardinal Soter’s virtues of humility, simplicity and steadfastness to our respective faiths and to our nationhood.

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