Archive for June, 2009

Vexilla Regis

Posted: June 20, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized

I thought the Vexilla Regis hymn and the accompanying Missa Cantata scene was a good combination. Enjoy this beautiful Hymn !!

vexilla_regis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABROAD the Regal Banners fly,
Now shines the Cross’s mystery;
Upon it Life did death endure,
And yet by death did life procure.

Who, wounded with a direful spear,
Did, purposely to wash us clear
From stain of sin, pour out a flood
Of precious Water mixed with Blood.

That which the Prophet-King of old
Hath in mysterious verse foretold,
Is now accomplished, whilst we see
God ruling nations from a Tree.

O lovely and refulgent Tree,
Adorned with purpled majesty;
Culled from a worthy stock, to bear
Those Limbs which sanctified were.

Blest Tree, whose happy branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore;
The beam that did that Body weigh
Which raised up hell’s expected prey.

Hail, Cross, of hopes the most sublime!
Now in this mournful Passion time,
Improve religious souls in grace,
The sins of criminals efface.

Blest Trinity, salvation’s spring,
May every soul Thy praises sing;
To those Thou grantest conquest by
The holy Cross, rewards apply. Amen.

 

HOLY MASS AND EUCHARISTIC PROCESSION
TO THE BASILICA OF SAINT MARY MAJOR
ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI

 

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Square outside the Basilica of Saint John Lateran
Thursday, 11 May 2009

 

 

“This is my Body…. This is my Blood”.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper are repeated every time that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is renewed. We have just heard them in Mark’s Gospel and they resonate with special power today on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. They lead us in spirit to the Upper Room, they make us relive the spiritual atmosphere of that night when, celebrating Easter with his followers, the Lord mystically anticipated the sacrifice that was to be consummated the following day on the Cross. The Institution of the Eucharist thus appears to us as an anticipation and acceptance, on Jesus’ part, of his death. St Ephrem the Syrian writes on this topic: during the Supper Jesus sacrificed himself; on the Cross he was sacrificed by others (cf. Hymn on the Crucifixion, 3, 1).

“This is my Blood”. Here the reference to the sacrificial language of Israel is clear. Jesus presents himself as the true and definitive sacrifice, in which was fulfilled the expiation of sins which, in the Old Testament rites, was never fully completed. This is followed by two other very important remarks. First of all, Jesus Christ says that his Blood “is poured out for many” with a comprehensible reference to the songs of the Servant of God that are found in the Book of Isaiah (cf. ch. 53). With the addition “blood of the Covenant” Jesus also makes clear that through his death the prophesy of the new Covenant is fulfilled, based on the fidelity and infinite love of the Son made man. An alliance that, therefore, is stronger than all humanity’s sins. The old Covenant had been sealed on Sinai with a sacrificial rite of animals, as we heard in the First Reading, and the Chosen People, set free from slavery in Egypt, had promised to obey all the commandments given to them by the Lord (cf. Ex 24: 3).

In truth, Israel showed immediately by making the golden calf that it was incapable of staying faithful to this promise and thus to the divine Covenant, which indeed it subsequently violated all too often, adapting to its heart of stone the Law that should have taught it the way of life. However, the Lord did not fail to keep his promise and, through the prophets, sought to recall the inner dimension of the Covenant and announced that he would write a new law upon the hearts of his faithful (cf. Jer 31: 33), transforming them with the gift of the Spirit (cf. Ez 36: 25-27). And it was during the Last Supper that he made this new Covenant with his disciples and humanity, confirming it not with animal sacrifices as had happened in the past, but indeed with his own Blood, which became the “Blood of the New Covenant”. Thus he based it on his own obedience, stronger, as I said, than all our sins.

This is clearly highlighted in the Second Reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, in which the sacred author declares that Jesus is the “mediator of a new covenant” (9: 15). He became so through his blood, or, more exactly, through the gift of himself, which gives full value to the outpouring of his blood. On the Cross, Jesus is at the same time victim and priest: a victim worthy of God because he was unblemished, and a High Priest who offers himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and intercedes for the whole of humanity. The Cross is therefore a mystery of love and of salvation which cleanses us as the Letter to the Hebrews states from “dead works”, that is, from sins, and sanctifies us by engraving the New Covenant upon our hearts. The Eucharist, making present the sacrifice of the Cross, renders us capable of living communion with God faithfully.

Dear brothers and sisters whom I greet with affection, starting with the Cardinal Vicar and the other Cardinals and Bishops present like the Chosen People gathered on Sinai, this evening let us too reaffirm our fidelity to the Lord. A few days ago, in opening the annual Diocesan Convention [of Rome] I recalled the importance of remaining, as Church, attentive to the word of God in prayer and in exploring the Scriptures, especially through the practice of lectio divina, that is, through reading the Bible in meditation and veneration. I know that in this respect many initiatives which enrich our diocesan community have been promoted in parishes, seminaries and religious communities, in confraternities and in apostolic associations and movements. I address my fraternal greeting to the members of this multiplicity of Church bodies. Your numerous presence at this celebration, dear friends, highlights the fact that God moulds our community, characterized by a plurality of cultures and by different experiences. God moulds it as “his” People, as the one Body of Christ, thanks to our heartfelt participation in the twofold banquet of the Word and of the Eucharist. Nourished by Christ, we, his disciples, receive the mission to be “the soul” of this City of ours (cf. Letter to Diognetus, 6: ed. Funk, I, p. 400; see also Lumen Gentium n. 38), a leaven of renewal, bread “broken” for all, especially for those in situations of hardship, poverty or physical and spiritual suffering. Let us become witnesses of his love.

I address you in particular, dear priests, whom Christ has chosen so that with him you may be able to live your life as a sacrifice of praise for the salvation of the world. Only from union with Jesus can you draw that spiritual fruitfulness which generates hope in your pastoral ministry. St Leo the Great recalls that “our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ aspires to nothing other than to become what we receive” (Sermo 12, De Passione 3, 7, PL 54). If this is true for every Christian it is especially true for us priests. To become the Eucharist! May precisely this be our constant desire and commitment, so that the offering of the Body and Blood of the Lord which we make on the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our existence. Every day, we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord that free, pure love which makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to his joy. This is what the faithful expect of the priest: that is, the example of an authentic devotion to the Eucharist; they like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus as was the practice of the Holy Curé d’Ars, whom we shall remember in a special way during the upcoming Year for Priests.

St John Mary Vianney liked to tell his parishioners: “Come to communion…. It is true that you are not worthy of it, but you need it” (Bernard Nodet, Le curé d’Ars. Sa pensée – Son coeur, éd. Xavier Mappus, Paris 1995, p. 119). With the knowledge of being inadequate because of sin, but needful of nourishing ourselves with the love that the Lord offers us in the Eucharistic sacrament, let us renew this evening our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We must not take this faith for granted! Today we run the risk of secularization creeping into the Church too. It can be translated into formal and empty Eucharistic worship, into celebrations lacking that heartfelt participation that is expressed in veneration and in respect for the liturgy. The temptation to reduce prayer to superficial, hasty moments, letting ourselves be overpowered by earthly activities and concerns, is always strong. When, in a little while, we recite the Our Father, the prayer par excellence, we will say: “Give us this day our daily bread”, thinking of course of the bread of each day for us and for all peoples. But this request contains something deeper. The Greek word epioúsios, that we translate as “daily”, could also allude to the “super-stantial” bread, the bread “of the world to come”. Some Fathers of the Church saw this as a reference to the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life, the new world, that is already given to us in Holy Mass, so that from this moment the future world may begin within us. With the Eucharist, therefore, Heaven comes down to earth, the future of God enters the present and it is as though time were embraced by divine eternity.

Dear brothers and sisters, as happens every year, at the end of Holy Mass the traditional Eucharistic procession will set out and with prayer and hymns we shall raise a unanimous entreaty to the Lord present in the consecrated host. We shall say, on behalf of the entire City: “Stay with us Jesus, make a gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life! Free this world from the poison of evil, violence and hatred that pollute consciences, purify it with the power of your merciful love”. “And you, Mary, who were the woman “of the Eucharist’ throughout your life, help us to walk united towards the heavenly goal, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, the eternal Bread of life and medicine of divine immortality”. Amen!

 

 

 

© Copyright 2009 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Salve Regina

Posted: June 14, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith ?

Posted: June 13, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized

ranjithThe Peacemaker

Pope Benedict XVI has decided to send one of the staunchest supporters of his liturgical reform in the Roman Curia away from the Eternal City. Why?
 

By Robert Moynihan

VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2009 — The Pope has decided that Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (photo), the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and one of the strongest supporters of Benedict’s liturgical reform, will be transferred this summer to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka (his native country), where he will become archbishop, reliable Vatican sources confirmed today. The decision will be announced publicly in the next few days, the sources said.
 
According to veteran Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli (but this has not been confirmed), Ranjith will be replaced by the American Dominican J. Augustine Di Noia (photo), who has been Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith (CDF) since 2002, where he was in daily working contact with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the CDF before he became Pope. “After having been the number three of Ratzinger, he (Di Noia) will now become the number two of the ‘little Ratzinger,’ a nickname given to Spanish Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, who leads the Congregation of Worship,” Tornielli wrote in Il Giornale recently. “The liturgical dicastery is the Vatican office that has most often changed its Secretary in recent years: Di Noia will be the fourth in just seven years.”

Many Vatican observers believe that the decision to send Ranjith away from Rome is a “victory” for liturgical progressives, and a “defeat” for liturgical traditionalists, since Ranjith has been a prominent champion of more solemnity and decorum in the celebration of the Mass in the new rite, and a supporter of wider use of the old rite, and this interpretation can be found in numerous articles and blogs on the internet.
 
However, it is not certain that this is the true interpretation. And there are reasons to interpret the appointment in a different way.
 
Colombo is not presently a cardinalatial see, but there has been a cardinal in Colombo in the past, so it is certainly a possibility that Ranjith could receive the red hat in an upcoming consistory — something he could not have received if he had remained as a secretary of the Congregation.
 
Ranjith was a bishop in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, but in 2001 Pope John Paul II called him to Rome, appointing him secretary under Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide). Due to tensions between the two, in April 2004,  Ranjith — who was not a Vatican diplomat — was named the nuncio in Indonesia and East Timor. Then, after Pope Benedict was elected, in April 2005, he called Ranjith back to Rome, making him secretary of the Divine Worship Congregation in December, 2005.
 
Some thought that Ranjith would succeed Cardinal Francis Arinze as head of the Congregation upon Arinze’s retirement for reason of age, but, Tornielli writes, Ranjith was “considered by his adversaries too close to the traditionalists and Lefebvrists.”
 
Tornielli sums up the consensus view: “Ranjith’s presence on the front lines in Asia will be important, because there the Church faces a decisive challenge. But it is difficult not to view his appointment as a ‘promoveatur ut amoveatur’ (‘let him be promoted that he may be removed’).”
 
Still, there is a Sri Lankan proverb: “The tiger who is outside of his cage is more dangerous than the tiger who is inside of his cage.”
 
Ranjith, once in his own archdiocese, will have a chance to help bring true peace to his war-torn country, and to fight for social and economic justice in his homeland, something he has written and spoken about often in the past.
 
It is known that the president of Sri Lanka twice visited Rome in recent years, and twice told Pope Benedict that he would appreciate Ranjith’s contribution to the peace process in his country, as Ranjith is respected by all sides.
 
In this perspective, one could perhaps imagine that Benedict has actually followed the opposite logic from that which most Vatican watchers see here: “amoveatur ut promoveatur” (“let him be removed that he may be promoted”).
 
Only time will tell whether Ranjith will rise to the challenge his new post poses, and become a true peacemaker, binding up the wounds caused by a long civil war, as well as continuing to be a supporter of reverence and decorum in the Church’s liturgy, as desired by Pope Benedict.

Corpus Christi and St. Thomas

Posted: June 12, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized

http://www.cts.org.au/1998/corpuschristi.htm

by James Chegwidden
 
The feast of Corpus Christi is cause for major celebration in the Church on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. For Thomists it should be highly regarded, for the author of the Mass and Office of Corpus Christi was St Thomas Aquinas himself.

Corpus Christi is a late feast, being only introduced in the 13th century, by which time most of the other feasts in the classical Roman Missal had been established for almost a millennium. In 1264, Pope Urban IV issued a papal bull, Transiturus, promulgating Corpus Christi as a feast for the Universal Church. He was acting after years of petitions from several sources, most notably from St Juliana de Cornillon, who had received visions from the Saviour requesting such a feast. Urban cast his eyes around the known world for candidates to compose a Mass and Office for the Feast. His search ended with Thomas Aquinas, the friar whose fame was fast spreading through out Europe.

What a glorious choice! The commission came from the Pope, but the call was from Christ ­ “Write, Sing of This, for This is My Body that was delivered for you, and My Blood that was shed for you”. And sitting in his quiet cell, Thomas began to write, and to sing. His song would soon resound on every hill and echo in every valley of Christendom.

The Mass and Office he wrote can still be seen and heard in the classical rite of the Roman Church. It is work of genius, which the famous Abbot Cabrol described as “one of the most beautiful canticles in the Catholic liturgy”, and Pius Parsch as “unquestionably a classic piece of liturgical work”. The poet Santolius avowed that he would have given his whole life’s work to become the author of just one verse of the Hymn for Lauds, Verbum Supernum.

Testimony to the greatness of work comes also from other great saints, such as St Bonaventure. Having also been commissioned by the Holy See to write an office for Corpus Christi, upon reading just one page of Thomas’ efforts, he immediately took his work ­ almost certainly a great masterpiece as well ­ and burned it in front of St Thomas. When the shocked St Thomas asked “But why?” he replied, “Because I would not have it on my conscience, Thomas, that I had attempted to stand between the world and this.”
Thomas had begun with words that have been compared to the clash of cymbals ­ “Pange Lingua”:

Pange lingua, gloriosi,
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium,
Fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit gentium.

Sing, my tongue, the Saviours glory,
of his flesh the mystery sing:
of the blood all price exceeding
shed by our immortal King,
destined for the world’s redemption
from a noble womb to spring.

For St. Thomas the mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood is the mystery of the Incarnate God, the Word made Flesh, and his work does not merely cover the main themes of the doctrine of the Blessed Sacrament. The Mass text is richly theological in content, as is the Office, combining in exquisite poetry the precise teaching of the Church on the Real Presence, the nature of Christ’s sacrificial offering in the Mass, and Holy Communion. The Lauda Sion, the sequence of the Mass, reveals much of this fine teaching:

What He did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
In his memory divine;
Wherefore we, with adoration,
Thus the Host of our salvation
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Taught by Christ the Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth,
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.

Here, beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see ­
Flesh from Bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire confess’d to be.

They, too, who of Him partake,
sever not, nor rend nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the self-same meat,
Nor the less for others leave.

Lo the wicked with the good
Eat of this celestial food:
Yet with ends how opposite!
Life to these, ‘tis death to those:
See how from life taking flows
Diff’rence truly infinite!

Nor do thou doubts entertain,
When the Host is broke in twain;
But be sure, each part contains
What was in the whole before.

‘Tis the simple sign alone.
Which hath changed its sign and form,
While the signified is one
And the same for evermore

What joy for Thomists to read the doctrine expressed by Christ rendered into pristine exactitude by St Thomas, and sung in the liturgy annually! Take the antiphon for Vespers:

O Sacrum convivium,
in quo Christus sumitur,
memoria recolitur Passionis
Ejus, mens impletur gratia
Et futurae gloriae pignus
nobis datur.

Oh blessed banquet,
Wherein Christ is received.
His Passion is again with us,
the soul o’erflows with grace:
a pledge of future glory is given to us.

This great summary of the effects of Holy Communion was so appreciated that it became part of the rubrics for every distribution of Holy Communion outside Mass.

St Thomas was a master in choosing psalms and other biblical texts for the feast, particularly for his skill in isolating many texts of the Old Testament prefiguring the Eucharist. His Office is far more biblical than most of the compositions of the time. We see Christ, the priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech offering bread and wine (Ps 109); we see Christ, the divine Moses, on the desert journey of life, giving food to them that fear Him (110). We remember the Church’s hymn of thanks in Psalm 115: What shall I render unto the Lord for all He has granted me? I will take the chalice of salvation. Psalm 127 shows the Church as a mother, a fruitful vine, Christ the Father of His family, winning His Bread by great toil. Ps 147 shows Jerusalem at peace, where her Lord nourishes her guests with the fat of wheat. The Magnificat recalls of course that He fills the hungry with good things, and sends the haughty rich empty away.

The second nocturn of Matins contains St Thomas’s own writings, the very ones for which Christ spoke to him from a crucifix and said Thou hast written well of me, Thomas. They are sermons written by the saint, from which I take here a brief extract:

O banquet most precious! … Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this Holy Sacrament! In it bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is saturated with an abundance of spiritual gifts. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, it is offered by the Church for the living and the dead, that all may share in its treasures.

When St Thomas first heard his brethren singing the Office he had composed and arranged, he started to cry, weeping tears of love and gratitude to the Eucharistic Lord who had inspired such a thing of splendour. Did God, I wonder, give Thomas a glimpse, perhaps, of the mighty future his Feast was to have? Did He show him the panorama of millions of processions, winding through street, town, hill, valley, countryside and cloister, involving billions of Christian faithful in the one great cry ­ Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis Mysterium!

Did he see the flowers strewn on the streets of Spain for the enthroned Body of Christ to see or the hushed English recusants adoring the Real Presence in a small cellar or the vast square of St Peter’s Rome with hundreds of thousands of the faithful being blessed with the Host in the monstrance by the Vicar of Christ himself, after singing that canticle ­ Pange Lingua?

Whether he knew it or not, St Thomas had written the hymn by which Christ’s bride the Church would forevermore praise her divine Spouse.

May we always sing with St Thomas the closing words of the Lauda Sion:    
Jesu, Shepherd, Bread indeed,
Thou take pity on our need!
Thou Thy flock in safety feed,
Thou protect us, Thou us lead,
To the Lord of Heavenly Life.
Amen.

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Posted: June 11, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized

NWC_pope_monstranceIt’s the Feast of Corpus Christi !

This day traditionally should fall on Thursday the 11th day of June, the thursday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity but it is a movable feast and can be shifted to the Sunday after Feast of the Holy Trinity. The Archdiocese of Singapore is one of the many diocese that will hold it on the 14th day of June 2009.

The feast of Corpus Christi traditionally falls on a thursday because the one Church commemorates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist on Maundy Thursday. We dedicate this day to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Yes, the Holy Mass is celebrated every day, every hour, every corner of the World but on this day, it is even more especially for the Eucharist. Wonder why the Church have so many feastdays just for the Eucharist ? The Church wants to emphasize how important the Eucharist is.

Nope, the Eucharist is not something that represents Jesus Christ. It does not represents Jesus. It is Jesus Christ.

(John 6: 48-63)

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Have you wondered why Jesus said “Amen Amen i say to you…” after the Jews had a commotion on how can he give us his flesh to eat, instead of Jesus saying, “No of course i don’t mean it literally”.

Religious Insensitivity

Posted: June 11, 2009 by piusranson in Uncategorized
Prime News
Seditious tract duo jailed eight weeks
Carolyn Quek
857 words
11 June 2009
English
(c) 2009 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

 

 

 

 

A CHRISTIAN couple were jailed eight weeks yesterday for distributing and possessing anti-Muslim and anti-Catholic publications, but this did not mark the end of Singapore’s first trial under the Sedition Act.

SingTel technical officer Ong Kian Cheong, 50, and UBS associate director Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 46, have appealed against the conviction and are out on $15,000 bail each.

District Judge Roy Neighbour decided on a jail term, even though a fine was allowed for under the law, as the couple’s offences affected the very foundation of Singapore society, which is multi-religious and multiracial.

The judge said the sentence in this case was necessary to deter others from committing similar offences. Decked out smartly in executive wear, husband and wife showed no emotion when their sentences were read out to them.

They were convicted of four charges two weeks ago, which included three for mailing seditious or objectionable evangelical Christian tracts to three Muslim civil servants between March and December 2007. Another charge was for keeping about 440 copies of 11 seditious booklets in their Bukit Timah condominium.

The Sedition Act is designed to punish those who stir up feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.

The punishments the husband and wife of 24 years received, however, were at the lower end of what the prosecution had urged the court to impose.

Deputy public prosecutors Anandan Bala and Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz had asked the court to keep the couple – first-time offenders – behind bars for between two and six months.

Under the law, the maximum jail term for distributing a seditious publication is three years’ jail for a first offender. The couple, who have a 19-year-old daughter, worshipped at the Berean Christian Church at the time of their offences last year. Judge Neighbour, in a written judgment, explained why he imposed a jail term of just two months.

He noted that it was Ong’s and Chan’s first brush with the law. He pointed out that the tracts were published by a reputable publisher and had been freely available for sale to the public. ‘This may to some extent, have contributed to their complacency in assuming that there was nothing wrong to distribute them to the public.’

Both Ong and Chan had also apologised to the three people who received the offensive mail. But Judge Neighbour said the offences they committed were ‘serious ones’. ‘They have the capacity to undermine and erode the delicate fabric of racial and religious harmony in Singapore.’

The booklets the couple possessed and distributed were not only offensive for religious content but also could promote ill-will or hostility between different races or classes of the population here, the judge added.

Religion is a sensitive issue and a person is free to choose and practise his religion, he also said. The intent in mailing seditious and offensive tracts was clearly done to convince the Muslim reader to convert to Christianity. ‘

It is foreseeable that the faithful have desires to profess and spread their faith. Besides worship, some Christians might even see evangelism as their paramount Christian duty,’ Judge Neighbour said.

But the right to propagate an opinion cannot be an unfettered right.

As Singaporeans, Ong and Chan cannot claim to be ignorant of the sensitivity of race and religion in Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious society, the judge said.

By distributing the tracts, the couple ‘clearly reflected’ their intolerance, insensitivity and ignorance of delicate issues concerning race and religion in Singapore. ‘Common sense dictates that religious fervour to spread the faith, in our society, must be constrained by sensitivity, tolerance and mutual respect for another’s faith and religious beliefs,’ Judge Neighbour said.

 

About the case

MARRIED couple Ong Kian Cheong, 50, and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 46, were convicted last month on two charges of distributing seditious publications and one each of distributing an objectionable publication and possessing seditious tracts.

The husband, a SingTel technical officer, and his wife, an associate director with UBS, committed the offences in 2007. Two of the recipients, Mr Irwan Ariffin, 32, and Madam Farharti Ahmad, 36, received an evangelistic comic tract titled The Little Bride through the mail. Another recipient, Mr Isa Raffee, 35, was sent a tract titled Who Is Allah?

About 440 copies of 11 seditious tracts were found in the couple’s home. They could have been fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed up to three years on each charge of sedition. For distributing objectionable publications, they faced a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to a year. For possession of such materials, they could have been fined up to $2,000 and/or jailed up to 11/2 years.