Archbishop Marino - Let’s Dialogue

The Catholic Lawyers’ Society (CLS) called on His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Marino, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to Malaysia at his residence in Kuala Lumpur.

The CLS delegation was led by its President, Viola Decruz, accompanied by the Society’s advisor Sir Dato Peter Mooney and 3 committee members. President Viola briefed His Excellency of the role and objective of the CLS.

His Excellency welcomed the delegation and expressed his gratitude to CLS for taking time off to meet him. His Excellency acknowledged that he is aware of CLS and the support it has accorded to the local church.

His Excellency was appointed on January 16, 2013 and took office as the first Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia in April 2013. He previously served as the Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh, a country with a population of over 160 million with 340,000 Catholics.

He became the subject of PERKASA and JATI’s wrath recently. These groups were quoted in the local media to have called for the closure of the Vatican embassy if the Apostolic Nuncio should fail to withdraw his statement about the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians. Jumping into the fray of discontent is Khairy Jamaluddin, our Minister of Sport. Such a call is contrary to Malaysian hospitality that is so often cherished and commended by foreigners.

CLS members with nuncio
His Excellency was quoted in the media as stating that the Fact Sheet by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Non-Muslims was “logical”, whilst declining to comment on the on-going court action by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian government over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Catholic newspaper, The Herald.

To the uninitiated, who have been critical of the Apostolic Nuncio and calling for his censure would find that His Excellency is a man who advocates dialogue. He was reported to have explained that dialogue would help foster better understanding and goodwill between the various communities. He was quoted to have said, “Inter-religious dialogue has nothing to do with trying to convert each other but more of as children of God coming together to talk about their experience of God.”

Archbishop Marino gave examples of his experience in Bangladesh, where Muslims, Christians and Buddhist held dialogues on matters touching on youth and women development. He went further to explain that imams and pastors gather to deal with religious questions affecting their respective communities.

Perhaps if our energy is focused on advocating dialogue and promoting goodwill and understanding, it would give lesser reasons for the likes of PERKASA or even JATI to be boisterous. It is here that the Malaysian government plays a pivotal role to bring together a nation that appears to be engulfed with racial and religious polarisation. There has been deafening silence from the inter-religious committee set up by the government in April 2010. Little has been heard of the works of this committee. It is timely that this committee lead the way to bring about the various religious groups to the forefront to dialogue. The committee could take cue from His Excellency’s initiatives in promoting dialogue.

There is much we can learn from His Excellency. After all, he was a member of the Vatican delegation sent by Pope John Paul II to Belgrade on April 1, 1999, at the height of the Kosovo conflict. He was also part of a delegation sent to the White House in 2003 before the start of the war in Iraq, carrying the Holy Father’s message of peace.

We look forward to His Excellency’s tenure in Malaysia with the hope that those in the Government will use his experience in the promotion of dialogue for the greater good of the nation.

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