Archbishop Wojciech Zaluski is a career Vatican diplomat. (Photo: Catholic Sabah)
Archbishop Wojciech Zaluski, the new Vatican envoy to Malaysia and Timor-Leste and apostolic delegate to Brunei Darussalam, arrived in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 21 amid a state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Zaluski, a native of Poland, as the new head of the apostolic nunciature in Malaysia on Sept. 28, 2020.
A career Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Zaluski, 60, has been in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1989 and has served in Burundi, Malta, Albania, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Georgia, Ukraine, the Philippines and Guatemala. His latest diplomatic mission was in Burundi.
Wojciech Zaluski was born on April 5, 1960, in Zaluski-Lipniewo in the central-eastern part of Poland. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Lomza on June 1, 1985. He earned a degree in canon law and joined the Vatican’s diplomatic service on July 1, 1989.
He is the second apostolic nuncio to be based in Malaysia after American Archbishop Joseph Marino, who served from 2013-20.
As Malaysia declared a state of emergency on Jan. 11 to contain a surge in coronavirus cases, Archbishop Zaluski will be tested for Covid-19 and undergo home quarantine at the apostolic nunciature in Kuala Lumpur as part of standard operating procedures for inbound travelers into Malaysia.
The prelate will present his credentials to Malaysia’s King Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at a convenient later date, according to an official communique from Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese on Jan. 21.
“His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow [of Kuala Lumpur] and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia warmly welcome His Excellency to Malaysia and are looking forward to working closely with him for the spiritual good of the Catholic Church in Malaysia,” it said.
The Vatican and Malaysia established diplomatic ties in 2011 following talks between Pope Benedict XVI and then PM Najib Razak.
In 2013, Archbishop Marino was appointed the first apostolic nuncio to Malaysia, while in 2016 Malaysia appointed Bernard Giluk Dompok as the first resident ambassador to the Holy See.
About 13 percent of Muslim-majority Malaysia’s population of 32 million are Christians. There are about 1.2 million Catholics in three archdioceses and six dioceses of Malaysia.
Timor-Leste, a Catholic-majority country with a population of about 1.2 million, established formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 2015. Although there is an office of the apostolic nuncio in capital Dili, the nuncio is usually based in Malaysia or Indonesia.
Brunei, a tiny but highly rich Islamic monarchy, does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican. The apostolic nuncio to Malaysia visits the country every year and meets church and government officials.
The Brunei Church has about 20,000 members, mostly migrants from other Asian countries.