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Monday, August 3, 2009

A Catholic’s perspective on the Al-Islam issue

Letter to The Editor of Herald Malaysia by Gregory Chan,
Roman Catholic Seminarian
For too long, the sensitivities of Catholics have been brushed aside by misinformed Muslims acting on the excuse of ferreting out murtad cases. In 2007, the Holy Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in Silibin was disrupted when a group of Muslims received a controversial sms that we were “converting” Muslims en masse. This was proved to be unequivocally false. The ceremony which was disrupted was one for first Holy Communicants, young children who are receiving the sacred host, something which the Catholics hold as sacred and sacrosanct. At that time, the Muslims stayed outside and staged a protest, and caused a great deal of fear, tension, and anxiety amongst the Catholics.
In 2009, Muslim journalists have come into our Church, unannounced and disguised as Catholics. This time, they participated in the Holy Eucharist and even received Holy Communion, which is reserved for Catholics alone, and had the audacity of spitting out and then photographing the expelled communion for all and sundry to see. And they even publish it in their magazine. What was their reason for acting in this manner? Again, to ferret out murtad cases.
Can we not see a progression in this? They have now entered our churches and participated in our ceremonies. The sensitivities of Catholics have been completely ignored. Indeed, the latest episode is but a blatant act of contempt towards our religion. What does this white communion wafer mean to us? Joachim Francis Xavier and Sudhagaran Stanley, the two people who have lodged a police report on this matter, subsequently had this to say:
“The ‘communion’ is held with great reverence and cannot in any way be mishandled or [treated] with a lack of respect. Even Catholics are not allowed to take home the ‘communion’ but are instructed to consume it immediately during the service. Catholics go through an elaborate process of preparing themselves to receive this ‘communion’ worthily and those who have not done so are advised to refrain from receiving it.”
Xavier and Stanley in a press statement said they were “outraged that these Muslim men consumed it [the communion] only to spit it out later, have it photographed, and have its image published”. The two Catholics said it was “total disrespect” for what Catholics regard as sacred.

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