"our Muslim brothers and sisters"

I read a ST news report on a statement by Archbishop Chia about the cartoon row, and I did a little pause when we addressed Muslims as "our Muslim brothers and sisters".

I of course believe in the human family, but this reference could be construed as patronising. I'm not sure if all Muslims are quite as willing as us to call others brother and sister. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

I'm wondering if this statement was a slight gaffe by the Archibishop, or a deliberate wording. Or am I making an issue out of nothing?

-just honestly asking-

Feb 17, 2006
Insensitive to run cartoons: S'pore Archbishop

By Ken
THE Catholic Church in Singapore condemns the publication of cartoons
satirising Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in the Danish newspaper

Archbishop Nicholas Chia said it was a 'deeply
irresponsible action and grossly insensitive' to Muslims' feelings.

In a
statement yesterday, he said the Catholic Church stood in solidarity with
Singapore's Muslims who were offended by the 'insensitive and provocative'
publication of the caricatures.

While upholding the principle of free
speech and expression as 'a fundamental human right and the basis for free and
democratic societies', he insisted that such freedom had to be exercised

Freedom of speech and expression imposed a 'serious
responsibility on those who claim it'. And it did not imply the right to offend
the religious sentiments of believers of any religion, he said.

'We view
the publication of the cartoons as a deeply irresponsible action and grossly
insensitive to the feelings and faith of our Muslim brothers and sisters,' he

'We condemn all forms of incitement to hatred on the basis of race
or religion, and any form of denigration of religion.'

But he added that
the provocation caused by the cartoons 'does not justify the violent reaction of
some who have protested against them'.



Daniel said...

Is God "Father of all"?

Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

In so far as Abraham is our "father in faith" (cf Roman Canon) and the CCC 841, drawing on Vatican II teaches that the Muslim believer also holds the faith of Abraham, then we can say that, in this sense, they are our 'brothers and sisters'.

However, the more theological understanding of the term 'brothers and sisters' is based on the theology of divine filiation by which, in baptism into Christ, we are adopted as children of God the Father.

Muslims, having no belief in the above, cannot avail themselves of divine filiation and thus, in that sense, cannot be truly called our brothers and sisters.

So, if one looks through the lens of the Old Testament, then we have something in common with Muslim people, but the lens of the New Testament offers greater difficulty.

I think the Archbishop is well-intentioned and he may well mean 'brothers and sisters' in a loose popularist sense - the human family - and, in charity, I would read him in this manner.

But imprecision is something that plagues us and His Grace, as Pastor and Teacher, really ought not to contibute to that.

Nick Teo said...

I agree with brother lawrence. after all what Archbishop said was plainly politically correct. I'm sure he had no intention to make the situation worse by patronising anyone or group. I suppose he wanted to show the "universal" characteristic of our Catholic church by calling everyone, whether or not muslims or hindus or protestants, brothers and sisters.