CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ OF MALAYSIA
As Catholics we rejoice with all Malaysian citizens as we celebrate our 51st anniversary of national freedom with joy tempered with sadness at recent events. Joy, because we have attained a certain maturity with greater freedom of speech and expression for a new era of democracy. Sadness, because there are some who frustrate the march to higher levels of freedom, of truth, of justice and peace.
In the situation prevailing at present in our country, we bishops think it necessary to highlight certain points in the Teachings of the Church on the political community of a nation.
“Christians must be conscious of their specific and proper role in the political community:
they should be a shining example by their sense of responsibility and their dedication to the common good;
they should show in practice how authority can be reconciled with freedom, personal initiative with solidarity and the needs of the whole social framework, and the advantages of unity with profitable diversity.
They should recognise the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organisation of worldly affairs and show respect for their fellow citizens, who even in association defend their opinions by legitimate means.
Political parties, for their part, must support whatever in their opinion is conducive to the common good, but must never put their own interest before the common good”
(Vatican II Documents: Church in the Modern World – Participation by all in Public Life. No. 75).
We also raise a few concerns over recent happenings:
Racial and religious tensions have re-surfaced with mob action in disrupting the forum organised by the Bar Council on 9 August 2008 and the action of Federal Ministers in condemning the organiers of the forum and threatening them with the use of the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act.
The demonstration of the students of UiTM against the legitimate suggestion of the honourable Menteri Besar of Selangor is another lost opportunity towards racial integration at the core of human formation through education.
The continued rise of the cost of living, especially fuel, electricity and food prices which is causing great hardship to the poorer segment of our people.
The displacement of peoples through mega-housing projects has not only eroded our environment drastically, but also has given rise to other social problems, especially the rise in horrendous crimes.
“We need to remind ourselves and to reassert our fundamental belief and dream that peace and harmony cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency or economic efficiency. It is the right of each person to have his or her voice heard and for each community to make known its views. We need to convince ourselves of the centrality of the democratic processes and take upon ourselves the responsibility to promote and ensure greater peace and harmony”. (Stepping Stones to Greater Peace and Justice – August 1998: Archbishop Soter Fernandez)
In the light of these, we exhort lay people who have been blessed by God with leadership positions in the social and political arena to strive for the common good, especially the unity and progress of the country where justice and respect flourish for all.
We pray for our Prime Minister, that he will carry out his promises to the Rakyat against any odds that may deter his right judgement.
We pray for our representatives in Parliament, that they will be single-minded in their service to the Rakyat.
We call upon all God-fearing people to pray for God’s blessings upon Malaysia – for a greater enlightenment in areas of religion, politics and social life. Let us truly work towards one Bangsa Malaysia.
GOD BLESS MALAYSIA.
Archbishop Murphy Pakiam
Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Malaysia