Archbishop Nicholas Chia: I withdrew letter for social harmony’s sake

The Home Affairs Ministry has criticised activist group Function 8 for publicising Archibishop Nicholas Chia’s retraction of a letter through blogger Alex Au. MHA said its actions were “disrespectful to the Archbishop”.

Source : Channel NewsAsia Singapore

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MHA’s Statement on Archbishop Nicholas Chia’s Comments

The Government values its long-standing relationship with the Catholic Church and the Catholic community in Singapore, and deeply appreciates Archbishop Nicholas Chia’s many contributions to religious harmony in Singapore.

As part of building trust and understanding and to maintain religious harmony in Singapore, government ministers meet regularly with various religious leaders in Singapore. Such closed-door meetings allow a frank exchange of views especially on sensitive subjects. This is a well-established process that is appreciated by both ministers and religious leaders.

We note Archbishop Chia’s statement yesterday that he had withdrawn his earlier letter as its contents did not accurately reflect his views on the subject. He also expressed concern that if the letter was used in a manner that he did not intend, it may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore. His decision to withdraw his letter ahead of a political event in June 2012, shows his appreciation of the complexity of our multi-racial, multi-religious society, and the need to keep religion and politics separate.

The actions by this group to publicise the matter through Mr Au is disrespectful of the Archbishop, and contrary to his views and intentions as conveyed to the group after he had decided to retract his letter. This deliberate breach of the Archbishop’s trust confirms the objective of this group to publicly involve the Catholic Church and the Archbishop in their political agenda.

THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
20 SEPTEMBER 2012

Source : MHA: Function 8 disrespectful to the Archbishop 

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Archbishop Nicholas Chia: I withdrew letter for social harmony’s sake

The head of the Catholic Church confirmed last night that he had written to an activist group backing its call to abolish the Internal Security Act – but withdrew the letter later fearing it could affect Singapore’s social harmony.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia told The Straits Times that he had retracted the letter sent to the group Function 8, as he was concerned that it would be used “in a manner that I did not intend”.

The response came a day after blogger Alex Au said on his site Yawning Bread that the Archbishop had written to Function 8 ahead of a June rally against the ISA.

“Au’s article confirmed my fear that the group would use my letter in a manner that I did not agree with, and make use of the Office of the Archbishop and the Catholic Church for their own ends,” he said.

This is the full text of his statement :

“I refer to the article by Mr Alex Au which he says is based on second hand information. Mr Au could only have obtained such an account from the group he referred to, with which I had communicated in private. I had earlier decided to withdraw my letter to this group as, on reflection, its contents did not accurately reflect my views on the subject, and if used in a manner that I did not intend, may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore. The group had acknowledged my decision and returned the letter to me.

The article by Au, which has appeared now, months later, confirms the correctness of my earlier decision to withdraw the letter so as not to inadvertently embroil the Catholic Church and the office of the Archbishop in a political event which was being staged by the group.

The Catholic Church has always maintained the position that it will not involve itself in political activities. We have always worked in harmony with the Government to contribute positively to society, rather than set ourselves on a collision path with the Government.

Au’s article confirmed my fear that the group would use my letter in a manner that I did not agree with, and make use of the Office of the Archbishop and the Catholic Church for their own ends.

These irresponsible actions can easily cause serious misunderstanding between the Catholic Church and the Government, and damage the longstanding trust and cooperation between the two. It is most regrettable that Au and the group have acted in this manner.”

By Tessa Wong, StraitsTimes


Archbishop Nicholas Chia said he withdrew the letter because he feared it could affect Singapore’s social harmony — ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Source : Archbishop Nicholas Chia: I withdrew letter for social harmony’s sake

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