ASIA/MALAYSIA - Bishops: The Bible is a call to all, those who write “Christian publications” seized on
Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) – “The Bible is an authentic announcement of Salvation directed to all those who wish to hear it”: with these words the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia express their opinion on the vexing issue of the more than 35,000 Bibles from Indonesia (which it shares with the language Bahasa Malaysia) detained by the Government at customs. According to the civil authorities, before being put into circulation in society, it is required that Bibles be stamped on the cover with the words “for Christians”, in capital letters, Arial font, size 12.
According to a note sent to Fides by the local Church, Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, Bishop of Malacca-Johor and President of the Episcopal Conference, says it would be better to stamp the Bibles with the words “Christian publication”, a formula adopted in 1980, rather than stamp “for Christians”. Currently, the Bibles are in the ports of Kuching and Klang, blocked for bureaucratic reasons, before they can be cleared. The Interior Minister had initially ordered that all copies were to be stamped with a serial number and the words “Only for Christians”, but after the strong opposition voiced by Malaysian Christian citizens of all denominations, he indicated that it would be sufficient to stamp “For Christians”.
At this point, the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) announced that it will meet next week to find a compromise with respect to Government's proposal. This would serve to “liberate” the phrase “Christian publication”, which since 1980 has been agreed upon by Churches and the Malaysian Government. The Bishop referred to the Government's proposed phrase, “only for Christians”, as “unacceptable and restrictive” stressing that “the Bible is the Good News of salvation, which comes to all those who are open to it.”
Also in dispute regarding the “blocked Bibles” are two other issues: the use of the word 'Allah' for God by Christians, which last year turned into a legal dispute between Christians and the State, and ended in victory for the Churches. The other issues are political. With the upcoming elections for the province of Sarawak, and the forthcoming general elections for the Country, the Government does not wish to create resentment and tensions among the Christian population, which could cause them to lose their majority. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 25/3/2011)
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