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 ccount 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."
Read the full story in the Straits Times