It is very often only the negative news involving the church that makes the headlines while hardly any positive news is reported in the international media, laments Benedict Lopez.
As someone who was born, bred and has been a practising Catholic, I have been deeply saddened on many occasions whenever I read about the child sex scandals involving the Catholic clergy in any part of the world – including the recent charges against Cardinal George Pell of Australia, especially now that he is in the hierarchy of the Vatican.
Do I feel ashamed about such heinous crimes being committed by the Catholic clergy? Yes, I do. Do I bow my head in shame over these wrongdoings? No, I don’t.
Why not? Because these offences are committed all over the world by people from all walks of life, including entertainers and sports personalities. Anybody found guilty of such despicable crimes should face the full brunt of the law and be incarcerated for the maximum jail term. No compromise should be made whoever they are as no one is above the law.
A friend of mine in Perth recently sent me a WhatsApp message which read, “Cardinal Pell accused, Catholics taking the heat. Wonder what tomorrow’s sermon will be all about.” I can empathise with my friend. I too have the same feelings when meeting non-Catholics.
I responded to my friend, saying the Catholic Church goes beyond the clergy, and it will endure and survive because its encompasses, among others, a belief in God and living according to Gospel teachings. I added that the Catholic Church embraces noble universal values such as justice, fair play, human decency, honesty, integrity and sincerity.
Subscribing to human rights, labour rights and civil liberties has always been the hallmark of the Catholic Church. I am proud of the Catholic Church’s stand on these issues. I recall when the church was in the forefront in Poland in the 1980s – which resulted in the collapse of communism in that country.
From a global perspective, it must be acknowledged that countries in Europe and Australia have for many years now been increasing secular in their views. Moving in this direction, they have on many occasions spewed their venom on the Catholic Church, especially on the latter’s stand on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and gay marriages.
Recently, authorities in Sweden banned a Swedish Christian preschool in Umea from saying the grace at mealtimes, talking about the Bible and even saying “Amen”. Such is the ongoing hatred towards Christians in a country which espouses and likes to be considered a beacon of human rights and civil liberties. What hypocrisy!
Australia too should look at the misdeeds committed in its past. In 2008, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made his famous sorry speech in which he acknowledged the “mistreatment of those from the stolen generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history”.
Australia should also apologise to its Asian neighbours for its White Australia Policy in the 1960s, when even respectable Asians were denied migration into the country and when the country only allowed immigrants mainly from Europe. Australia slighted the sensitivities of Asians with this nauseating policy.
Coming back to the Catholic Church. It is very often only the negative news that makes the headlines. Hardly any positive news is reported in the so-called international free media. I suppose any good the Catholic Church does is not good fodder for journalism.
How often is the splendid work done by those following in the footsteps of Mother Teresa reported in the media? What about the honourable work done by Catholic social service groups like Catholic Relief Services and the numerous Catholic retirement homes throughout the world? How often do we read any news about the millions of Catholics and non-Catholics who have received excellent education at Catholic schools and universities all over the world, including in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, the Catholic Church has built schools and hospitals all over the country, and many distinguished Malaysian men and women were educated and taught by Catholic brothers and nuns. Among the many illustrious Malaysians who were proud to have been associated with Catholic schools was the Tiger of Jelutong, the legendary Karpal Singh, an alumnus of St Xavier’s Institution in Penang.
The Catholic Church has faced tribulations in the past and has navigated choppy waters, and it will no doubt emerge from this predicament and prevail. Bad news for the secularists and spin doctors in Europe and Australia. They will need to find another punching bag.