Hindus and Jews urge Pope to propagate equal treatment in his visit to Malta

November 3rd, 2009 - 2:30 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

Hindus and Jews have asked Pope Benedict to take-up the issue of equal treatment of all religions and denominations before the law in Malta during his apostolic visit to the country in April next.

Malta Criminal Code reportedly makes one liable to imprisonment up to six months for publicly vilifying “Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion”, while committing such act against “any cult tolerated by law” makes one liable to imprisonment only up to three months.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a joint statement issued in Nevada today, said that it seemed to imply that except Roman Catholic, other religions and denominations including Hinduism and Judaism were just one of the cults in the eyes of Malta.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Freirich, also urged Pope to lobby Malta to replace the subject of “religion” with “comparative religion” in its public primary and secondary schools, thus teaching basics of all major world religions, including the viewpoint of non-believers. Catholic Archdiocese of Malta has already documented that students should “learn from the beauty and goodness of other faith traditions”.

According to Constitution of Malta (Chapter I, Article 2, Item 3): “Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education.”

Rajan Zed and Jonathan Freirich pointed out that opening-up the Malta children to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Since Pope was highly revered in Malta, his words would prove very effective in bringing religious equality and inclusiveness in the island nation. Besides Catholic majority, Pope should also meet the leaders of minority communities of Protestants, Orthodox, other Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, Jews, Wiccans/Neo-Pagans, people with “no religion”, etc., in Malta to hear their viewpoint. As a dominating majority in Malta, Catholics and Pope had a moral responsibility to take care of minority brothers/sisters from different faith backgrounds, Zed and Rabbi Freirich argued.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI reportedly plans to visit Malta for a day in April next to commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island on his way to stand trial in Rome, which is said to have brought Christianity to the island. It will be third visit of a Pope to the island, who has reportedly been invited by President George Abela and Archbishop Paul Cremona. This visit will reportedly include Mass on the Granaries in Floriana and Pope is also expected to shed light during this trip on handling of illegal immigrants from Africa who pass through Malta on way to Europe.

Maltese islands were first settled reportedly in 5,200 BCE. Few European countries have such concentrated architecture, history, and beaches in so small an area as Malta.

-Sampurn Media

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