"I am terribly saddened and sorry for the recent demonstrations that have seen use of offensive words and the burning of some images that portray Fr. Lawrence Andrew".
gestures are "tantamount to an attack against the entire Christian community",
says the Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Murphy Pakiam , in a pastoral
letter sent to all the parishes of the diocese yesterday and read in every
church , at the end of the Sunday service.
prelate recounts the attacks in recent weeks against the editor of the Herald Malaysia, who is also subject to
death threats in the context of the controversy over the use of the word "Allah"
to identify the Christian God that has dragged on for years in courtrooms and in the country.
confrontations and divisions have worsened with the seizure ( illegal) of
hundreds of copies of the Bible in Selangor and the priest's strong response
have increased the stand-off, in a battle for religious freedom increasingly at
risk in the Muslim majority Asian nation.
The Malaysian Catholic Church has
always been "at the forefront" in the fight "for peace and
justice", emphasizes the archbishop emeritus and current diocesan
administrator pending the appointment of his successor.
have always moved within the limits of the law - he adds - as stipulated in the
terms of the Federal Constitution , which guarantees freedom of worship without
interference or intimidation".
prelate is " sorry and saddened" by the recent events and the personal
attack against Fr. Lawrence,
in street demonstrations and public protests. These
gestures , he stresses, are a source of " discomfort , anxiety and
anger" among the Christian population .
Archbishop Pakiam also criticizes
the support of a certain political class in the attacks against the editor of
the Herald Malaysia and the guilty
silence of many others, which only contributes to "heaping fuel on the
fire" and augmenting tension in an uncontrolled manner.
can not accept or tolerate - clarifies the prelate - groups that foster
division, discord and disharmony in society." He
appealed to the faithful, inviting them to "be strong" and "
profess our faith with courage and determination." "We
stand by Fr . Lawrence - said the archbishop - and those who are involved in
this noble cause."
On 7 January, the editor of the Herald Malaysia was questioned for two
hours by police in Selangor, the interrogation regarded statements made by the
priest that Islamic organizations and institutions do not have rights or
jurisdiction over Christian institutions and associations. His
comments were in reaction to the raid on the headquarters of the Bible Society
of Malaysia ( BMS ) in Selangor and the seizure of Bibles, an action he told AsiaNews, that is "profoundly
wrong" and "unlawful" .
added that the churches of the region will continue to use the name "Allah"
to describe the Christian God in the Sunday services since the ban applies only
to its use by the Catholic weekly. The
priest came under investigation on charges of "sedition" and the
attorney general's office is considering whether to proceed with the charges
against him and return to trial.
The Islamists blitz on the bible
society is the latest episode in a long standing battle over the use of the
word "Allah" for non-Muslims, which began following the confrontation
- that ended up in a court case - between the editor of the Catholic weekly, the Herald, and the government.
judgment of the Court of Appeal effectively denied the Catholic weekly
directed by Fr . Lawrence
the right to print the word "Allah" when describing the Christian
God. The priest then requested to appeal
In Malaysia, out of a population of
more than 28 million people, the majority (60 per cent) are Muslim, followed by
Christians constitute the third largest group numbering around 2.6
A few years ago, a 400-year-old Latin-Malay dictionary was re-issued.
shows that Allah was used in the Bible as the
word for God in the local language.