When in Rome, do as Romans do

Archbishop Joseph Marino presenting his credentials as Apostolic Nuncio to His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong XIV

It has been reported that the diplomatic envoy from the Vatican shot his mouth, which should be deemed as insensitive and out of context. Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Marino supported the Christian Federation of Malaysia to use the “kalimah Allah” as a reference to God.

Church right to say Allah describes God, says Vatican’s first envoy to Malaysia

JULY 11, 2013

In his first interview with the Malaysian media, the first resident diplomat sent by the Vatican to live and work in this country spoke on the controversial issue of the use of the Arabic word “Allah” to describe God in any religion.

Archbishop Joseph Marino said he supports the stand of the Catholic Church in Malaysia.

He applauded the arguments made by the Christian Federation of Malaysia to use “Allah” in its texts to refer to God as very well done.

Archbishop Marino is the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia. This position, also often known as a papal nuncio, is the Vatican equivalent to an ambassador.

This is the first time the Vatican has opened what is the equivalent to an embassy in Malaysia.

The diplomat said the only way to stop deterioration in race relations in Malaysia is through dialogue, saying it would work out if people sat down and talked.

On his experience being the former nuncio in Bangladesh, Archbishop Marino said the people in that Muslim country have great respect for Christianity. – July 11, 2013.


HE Archbishop Marino should in his capacity of a diplomat and Papal Nuncio understand the sensitivities of the issue and the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia and views and position on the subject matter of all HRH Rulers as the absolute head on matters pertaining Islam.

It is utter negligent of him to utter such stance only in taking the consideration of the Catholic Church position on the matter. Unless he is doing it with the sinister agenda beyond appeasing the Malaysian Christians, which some of them of late have become unbearably loud and bold.

Wisma Putra should issue a protest note against this, which should be regarded as taking position in Malaysia’s domestic affairs and meddling in an ultra-sensitive issue.  This diplomatic open support could be the new ammunition for some minority within the Christian faith to divide the inter-faith harmony, tolerance, understanding and acceptance.

This opportunity would definitely be capitalised by some deviant minority groups to sow the ‘Politics of Hatred’ strategy and divide this nation wider in their attempt to rise onto power and take control over the majority. In some closed events, they have already expressed their desire “To make Christian an official religion of Malaysia”.

What is worse HE Archbishop Marino made this statement on the second day of the most revered month in Islam, Ramadan. This factor could have further expounded the sensitivities and provide an opportunity of  senseless debate. That would lead into the harbour deeper distrust and ill feeling that otherwise could be avoided.

Prime Minister’s Department, Home Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs should keep this matter under close scrutiny from now on. As for Archbishop Marino, when in Kuala Lumpur, observe what the majority of the people in this land is sensitive to. That is the mark of a good man of the cloth and successful diplomat.

*Updated Friday 12 July 0500hrs

There is a suggestion that the Vatican recall Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Marino back to St. Peter’s Basilica or Wisma Putra should send a protest note and ask him to leave. This is because HE Marino insulted the position and role of HRH Rulers as the absolute heads of Islam in this country.

In January HRH Sultan Selangor Tuanku Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah issued a decree in his titah that Non Muslims should not be allowed to use ‘Allah’ in place of God and it is a “Sacred word exclusive to Muslims”.

Published: Wednesday January 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 22, 2013 MYT 5:06:38 PM

Non-Muslims can’t use ‘Allah’

SHAH ALAM: The Sultan of Selangor has decreed that non-Muslims in the state have been barred from using “Allah”, saying it is a sacred word exclusive to Muslims.

A statement yesterday from Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (Mais) secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had expressed shock and regret over DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s recent statement urging the Government to allow the word “Allah” to be used in the Malay version of the Bible.

Lim, who is the Penang Chief Minister, had stated this in his New Year message.

The Ruler had called for an emergency meeting with officials of Mais, the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) and the Selangor mufti on Sunday.

“The Sultan made a decision and decreed that the word Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and it is prohibited to be used by any non-Muslim in Selangor, as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on Feb 18, 2010,” Mohd Misri said.

“Tuanku is disappointed that the decree had been taken lightly by some parties until the issue was brought up again,” he said, adding that the Sultan also stated that Mais and Jais could take stern action against anyone who questions the fatwa that was issued according to state laws.

To know in detail these state laws and fatwa over the word “Allah”, visit http://www.mais.gov.my.

The Ruler’s decree came ahead of a Pakatan Rakyat meeting at which the word “Allah” had been allowed to be used by even non-Muslims.

PAS ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib expressed shock that Pakatan leaders, including party chief Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, had reached that consensus.

He said the matter was never discussed, not even in the Syura council – the party’s supreme body.

“As far as I can remember, we never reached a decision on the matter,” he said, adding that it was wrong to misuse the kalimah “Allah” for any politically-motivated agenda.

In SEREMBAN, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that Sultan Sharafuddin had every right, as head of the state’s Islamic affairs, to issue the decree.


Instigating and inciting matters pertaining to Islam and decree by HRH Rulers should be regarded as seditious. Since HE Archbishop Marino is a diplomat and enjoys diplomatic immunity, Malaysian Sedition Law does not apply to him.

Therefore he should just leave or risk to create serious diplomatic displeasure between Putrajaya and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Published in: on July 11, 2013 at 15:00  Comments (38)