Monday, November 27, 2006

December 1st - Day of Fasting, Penance and Prayer

This just in from the Office of the Bishop of Penang:


My dear priests, religious, laity and people of goodwill,

Since 5th November 2006 (5/11), when a Malay Muslim group demonstrated at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Ipoh responding to a false SMS about the conversion of Muslims to Christianity, there had been several responses regarding this incident:

1. The Parish Priests, Rev. Bernard Paul and his assistant Dominic Santhiyagu had exhorted the parishioners to be calm and peaceful. I am happy and proud of the way the priests and people faced a challenging moment with dignity and faith in what they hold dear.

2. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Penang, Rev. Fabian Dicom on my behalf, in my absence, expressed extreme concern that a group of people had been sowing ill-will through rumours. He noted that the incident had infringed on the the church members' right to worship. He also said "The Catholic Church has always believed that dialogue us the best platform to resolve issues and as such is extremely disappointed that there was no attempt whatsoever for dialogue."

3. The Catholic Lawyers of Penang, through Mr. Bernard Bhar has stated that "charging them under the ISA or under any other draconian laws, would deny them their rights to a fair trial" and called for dialogue between religious leaders and took the Mufti of Perak to task.

4. The Christian Federation of Malaysia, of which the Catholic Church is a member, responded thanking the Police for the preventive action taken and strongly requested for an inquiry and action.

5. The Council of Churches of Malaysia expressed concern and alarm and called for a clear statement from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for freedom of Religion and the right to worship in peace and harmony.

6. Zaitun Kassim of Sisters in Islam expressed how this incident has embarassed Islam and expressed sorrow.

7. Many other Muslims have expressed their concern through various means of social communication.

My sincere thanks and appreciation for all the expressions of concern and protests. It is really heartening to know that not all Muslims in this country are sympathetic to this kind of negative behaviour.

The Prime Minister, the Inspector General of Police and other responsible persons too have expressed their concern and promised to investigate the matter.

The words of Jesus come vividly and forcefully "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you". This is not a time for revenge but a time for healing and prayer. In the spirit of Christ and the Church, I call on all Catholics and all people of goodwill
to observe Friday the 1st of December 2006 as a day of fast, penance and prayer. As far as possible gather in your churches, chapels and homes at 8.00p.m . sharp and pray for:

1. Healing: that the 1st communion children and the parishioners of Our Lady od Lourdes in Ipoh may be healed for this negative experience and experience the peace and tranquility to the full again in Jesus.

2. Forgiveness: that we forgive the Muslim group sincerely from our hearts as Jesus forgives us and call upon God the Almighty to forgive the group.

3. Dialogue: that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will seriously work towards establishing structures of Dialogue at various levels, comprising peoples of all races, cultures and religions.

May our fasting, penance and prayer bring continuous peace and harmony to our beloved land, Malaysia."

With love,
Bishop Antony Selvanayagam

Feast of Christ the King,
26th November 2006