Church takes possession of panel

SUBANG JAYA: THE window panel at the Sime Darby Medical Centre (SDMC) here on which appears a figure resembling the Virgin Mary will be taken down in the next few days and handed over to the Catholic Church.

This will be the first step in a long and detailed study of the image which depicts what some believe is the appearance of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

The image of the woman clad in a pink and blue-ish gown and what resembles a halo has made international headlines.

It is though, not unlike popular paintings of Mary.

The Vatican has been extremely cautious in announcing images and apparitions as authentic and has strict guidelines for bishops to discern sightings – a process that could take years of scientific and theological study.

In its 2,000-year history, the Catholic Church has only recognised a dozen apparitions.

Rejected "apparitions" and images include claims of the Virgin Mary on a potato chip, a piece of chocolate, a tree trunk, a piece of toast and even in bird droppings! Yesterday, Father Simon Labrooy, the parish priest of the Church of St Thomas More (under whose parish SDMC comes), stressed that the Church remained undecided on the authenticity of the image.

"We will withhold official comment until the image has been tested and verified by theologians and church authorities, a process that will take time," he said.

"What's good is that people are praying and getting in touch with their faith, so whatever it is, this is a good thing."

He said the SDMC management had agreed to remove the panel and present it to the Church, where it would be sent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang.

Labrooy had earlier issued a statement to parishioners stating that he had met with the management of SDMC, following consultations with Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.

"Contrary to rumours, SDMC has assured us that no attempt to clean the affected image on the glass panel has ever been undertaken nor have they any intention of doing so," he said.

He said SDMC had given an assurance that professional services would be deployed to ensure that the glass panel was not damaged on removal and when transported.

"This operation will be closely and jointly supervised by officials from the Church of St Thomas More," Labrooy said.

"The Catholic Church would like to thank SDMC for its cooperation in managing this delicate matter and accommodating the inconveniences to its patients and staff."

He said the Church also agreed with SDMC that the present situation, where large crowds of people congregated daily at the hospital compound, could not continue because of the potential adverse effects to patients and emergency services of the medical centre.

Yesterday afternoon, about 1,000 people were at SDMC praying and singing hymns while gazing at the image on the window of the seventh floor of the outpatient wing.

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