Many of you may have heard by now that Singapore will have our first Cardinal. As announced by Pope Francis on 29 May 2022, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, His Eminence Cardinal-elect William Goh, will be officially appointed a Cardinal at a Consistory (gathering of Cardinals) on 27 August 2022 in Rome. Cardinal-elect Goh is the first Singaporean to receive this honour. For Pope Francis, his desire is “that (the Cardinals) will help me in my mission as Bishop of Rome for the good of all God’s people”.
What does it mean for us in Singapore? During Catholic200SG in 2021, which marked the 200th anniversary of the Catholic Church in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote, “For 200 years, the Catholic community has made important contributions to Singapore’s development, particularly in education, health and social services.”
In a Facebook post on 1 June 2022, PM Lee noted that Cardinal-elect Goh’s promotion was a significant event for the local Church. He commented that under His Eminence’s leadership, the Catholic Church actively worked with fellow religious leaders to promote religious harmony and support the progress of Singapore. He added, “I am confident that he will continue to bring his wisdom and humility to his new responsibilities.” (Straits Times, 1 June 2022). The interreligious communities in Singapore also shared their joy in acknowledging that this is truly a proud moment for all Singaporeans and Singapore as a nation.
For the Church in Asia, the bishops and churches in the region believe that “Cardinal-elect William will be able to carry the voices of the people from the region to the universal Church and in turn brings the concerns and affections of the Pope and the universal Church to all the people of God here” (Catholic News, 12th June 2022, pg 1).
For the man himself, after the news sank in, all that the Cardinal-elect could say was “not my will but yours be done, Lord”. Yes, while Catholics and fellow Singaporeans offer congratulatory messages on his appointment, what he truly needs is our prayers. As Archbishop of Singapore, he asked for the Faithful to pray that the Holy Spirit will grant him wisdom, humility, fortitude, and most of all, compassion. Now, more so as a Cardinal, we need to keep him in our fervent prayers. We also need to ask God to send more labourers to the Church because the harvest is great. As the Church, we need to witness and make Jesus known and loved (CN, pg 1).
As a Catholic organisation in Singapore, we rejoice at the appointment of our first Cardinal. His Eminence has an affection for us at the Canossian Village and has made multiple visits to Canossaville’s premises through the years. The Cardinalship is indeed a gift to Singapore and the Church. As Archbishop, his aim was never to increase his popularity and following. Now as Cardinal, he knows how important it is for him to decrease so that Christ in our lives may increase.
The Lord will continue to direct the Church and the starting point of any mission is always an encounter with Him. He wants us to pray without ceasing. Our relationship with Jesus must grow, so that, like His Eminence our Shepherd, we can be witnesses to a God who is love and compassion to all whom we serve.