Church slams govt over inaction

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 4 -- The Catholic Church today slams the authorities for not taking any further action on a complaint against an Al Islam magazine journalist for alleged desecration of the Holy Communion at one of its churches recently.

Speaking at a press conference at his office here, Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Xavier Pakiam said, "It appears that the DPP’s (Deputy Public Prosecutor) instructions (to the police to take) no further action implies and conveys the message that no crime has been committed, despite the admission by the journalist of desecrating the Holy Communion. There are sufficient provisions in the Penal Code for this purpose."

"If those in authority fail in their duty to take action against the perpetrators, then others will feel less compelled to act within the constraints of the law and civilised norms of decency, if this and (similar) incidents are repeated."

However, he was quick to add that if the publication was willing to apologise, he would consider the matter "closed."

He cited the case of a Tamil newspaper which recently published a caricature of Jesus smoking and drinking.

"When the paper apologised, I accepted it and said the matter is treated as closed," he said.

"We are in the habit of seeking forgiveness and forgiving others. Forgiveness is in our blood," he said adding that "it is our daily prayer that God will forgive us even as we seek to forgive others."

He said, "What is most intolerable is the failure of the journalist, the editor and publisher of the magazine to own up and offer a public apology. Good sense must prevail."

"Such a modest act would go a long way to heal the wound in the Catholic community caused by the actions," he added.

A police report was lodge by two Catholic church members, Sudhagaran Stanley and Joachim Xavier following a report in the May 2009 issue of Al Islam magazine published by the Utusan group entitled "Tinjuan AL Islam Dalam Gereja-Mencari Keshihan Remaja Melayu Murtad."

Last month, they received a reply from the police saying it has been advised by the DPP no further action is needed on their complaint.

The Archbishop said, "The journalist, Muhd. Ridhwan Abdul Jalil, has displayed the utmost disrespect to the Catholic community when he admits receiving and spitting out the Holy Communion, then photographing the sacred host and worse, publishing the incident in the Al Islam magazine."

"Its desecration is a most heinous offence. It is thus not only disrespectful and a hatred for the Church when our belief is violated."

Pakiam also said the Catholic Lawyers’ Society sent a memorandum to the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein on 27 August 2009 on the matter.

"We have not heard of any action taken by the government. This silence does not augur well for interreligious harmony and peace," he said.

The Archbishop also highly lighted another case. "The Catholic community in Silibin, Ipoh are also disappointed and carry their hurt feelings due to the inaction of the police over the reports made regarding the demonstrations in the church compound by some unruly crowd in 2006," he said.

The crowd had gathered in response to rumours sent out by text messages by a mufti that hundreds of Malay youth were to be baptized at the church.

Pakiam said, "There is a need to be respectful of each other’s belief, failing which we will lose sight of our own humanity and dignity, the very basis of the 1Malaysia concept."

Asked if the authorities would not act on his appeal, Pakiam said, "We will continue to pray God Almighty to give enlightenment to all concerned." (By BOB TEOH/MySinchew)

MySinchew 2010.03.04