Parliament should sent a message of felicitation to Pope John Paul II on his 25th anniversary as pontiff to pay tribute to his work for world peace and inter-faith bridge-building as well as to highlight Malaysia’s resolve to foster global inter-civilisational and inter-religious understanding and goodwill
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): Parliament on Monday should adopt a motion to send a message of felicitation to Pope John Paul II on his 25th anniversary as pontiff for two reasons:
Twenty-five years ago, when a relatively unknown Polish archbishop Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became pope, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States, the Soviet Union was a superpower and Hussein Onn was the Prime Minister in Malaysia. The world is now a very different place and Pope John Paul II has had a hand in shaping events to a degree unrivalled by any other religious figure in modern history – whether in helping to bring down communism in eastern Europe or working tirelessly for peace in the world, most recently in Iraq.
The first non-Italian pope in 455 years and a “breaker of precedents”, John Paul II is the most-travelled pope ever, visiting 129 different countries in 102 foreign trips. Despite resistance from within the Catholic hierarchy, he has criticized past mistakes committed by the church and apologized for many things from forcing Galileo to recant, to the role played by the Christians in the Holocaust, to the Crusades and the “consquista” of the New World. He reached out to other faiths in unprecedented ways, becoming the first pope to visit a mosque and a Jewish synagogue.
Such a parliamentary motion, however, is not just to pay tribute to the Pope on the Silver Jubilee celebrations of his installation, but as an earnest of Malaysia’s resolve to play a greater role in promoting inter-civilisational and inter-faith dialogue, understanding and goodwill in the 21st century in keeping with Malaysia’s distinctive characteristics as the confluence of many great civilizations and religions in the world.
Malaysia is hosting the 10th Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Putrajaya although Malaysia is not an Islamic State. Similarly, Parliament should send a message of felicitation to Pope John Paul II on his Silver Jubilee celebrations to set a national and international example to foster greater inter-civilisational and inter-religious understanding and goodwill as a basis for world peace and solidarity in an increasingly fractious world.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman