Dedicated to the Restoration of a Catholic Identity
Friday, August 25, 2006
Ms. Michelle Malkin has a very interesting article on her website (http://michellemalkin.com) regarding a Muslim convert to Catholicism.
In 1998, Azlina binti Jailani changed her name to Lina Joy and was baptized a Catholic in a church in Kuala Lumpur. Ms. Joy now wants the government to stop classifying her as a Muslim.
But it isn't that simple: While Muslim-majority Malaysia is considered a largely moderate, modern society, renouncing one's Muslim faith still is considered both sinful and illegal by Islamic authorities -- who have gained increasing sway of late. Ms. Joy's apostasy case, now before Malaysia's highest court of appeal, has inflamed public debate, divided the legal community -- a Muslim lawyer supporting Ms. Joy has received death threats -- and threatens to set off political tremors in this Southeast Asian nation of 25 million people.
The landmark legal ruling, expected within a month, will help define Malaysia's character as a nation.
"We are at a crossroad, whether we go down the line of secular constitutionalism or whether that constitution will now be read subject to religious requirements," says Benjamin Dawson, one of Ms. Joy's lawyers.
Malaysia has been governed for more than a half century by a tradition of civil law passed on by former British colonial rulers. A separate shariah, or Islamic, legal system has co-existed with civil law specifically to govern the religious lives of Muslim citizens, who are mostly ethnic Malays. About 40% of the population is ethnic Chinese, Indians and other minorities of other faiths.
But conservative Islam's rise as a political force in the 1980s and 1990s has propelled pro-Western Malaysia -- and its legal system -- on a steady swing to the religious right. The government has ceded some powers once held by the civil-justice system to the shariah courts.
While the Quran states there should be "no compunction" in religion, Islamic authorities world-wide consider apostasy both a sin and a crime. In Malaysia, Islamic courts can sentence apostates to "rehabilitation" in prison-like re-education centers that sometimes use caning as part of their program.
Fr Loren Gonzales is a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix AZ currently shepherding a parish in Peoria. Fr Gonzales received his MDiv from the Franciscan School of Theology of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley CA. He was ordained to the presbyterate by the late Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, + Most Rev Carl Fisher. He is a former member of the Order of Friars Servants of Mary (Servites). He has ministered in the Archdioceses of Denver and San Francisco, and the Dioceses of Oakland, Orange, and Tucson, where he has served the people of God as a catechist, campus minister, liturgist, musician, parochial vicar and vocation director. His an advocate of the Reform of the Reform.Two years ago he received faculties from the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, + Most Rev Thomas Olmsted, to celebrate the Classical Liturgy according to the indult Ecclesia Dei. On September 14, 2007 Fr Gonzales celebrated a Missa Cantata in honor of His Holiness’ Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum. He celebrates the usus antiquor regularly. This blog, Overheard in the Sacristy, is inspired by his smattering of memoirs, Fifty Sophomoric Summers.