Pope Benedict XVI has erected the Diocese of Sandakan in the country of Malaysia, where the official religion is Islam, and he has named Father Julius Dusin Gitom as its first bishop.
The bishop-elect was born in 1957 in Kampung Loltos (Malaysia) and was ordained a priest in 1989. Up to now he has been a priest in the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu. The new diocese covers an area of almost 17,000 square miles, with a population of one million, of which 64,000 are Catholics. The diocese has six priests and two religious.
Malaysia has nearly 25 million inhabitants, half of which are Malaysian and the rest of Chinese, Indian and other ethnic origins.
The official religion is Islam. Christians make up seven percent of the populace.