In the previous issue of the Canossaville Heartbeat, I introduced Cardinal William Goh, the first Singaporean Archbishop appointed as a Cardinal by Pope Francis on 27 August 2022. Among the many interviews, Cardinal Goh outlined the four main areas that are urgent and important: faith in Asia, aid to the poor and the least, climate change, and inter-religious dialogue. These are the priorities spelled out by His Eminence and we are invited to share in his vision.
Faith in Asia
The Church in Singapore celebrated its 200th Anniversary in 2021. Our local church began when the early missionaries found a small group of Catholics on this island in 1821. Today the Archdiocese of Singapore has grown from the seed planted by the missionaries who preached the Good News, and has founded parishes, hospitals, schools, and homes. Catholics in Singapore have grown in spiritual maturity and numbers and we have begun to bring the faith to other parts of Asia where Jesus is not loved because He is not known. Many Catholic organisations and faithful travel to various parts of Asia to share their faith and technical know-how. Through their presence, faith, and skills, Catholics reach out to improve the lives of those in need by their words and works.
Aid to the Poor and the Least
Singapore is a developed nation in the midst of many developing and undeveloped countries in the region. We stand in solidarity with our neighbours, especially in bad times. Many countries in Asia are continuously struck by natural disasters, famine, political instability, and poverty. Their people are caught in deprived conditions, resulting in families enduring separation when members resort to venturing abroad to earn a better living. These workers often spend many years apart from their loved ones.
Besides reaching out to the migrant communities in Singapore, the Catholic Church has been serving human life by fostering authentic development through disaster relief and capacity building through organisations like Caritas Singapore. Many individuals sacrifice their time and resources to volunteer either individually or through organisations, while the Church collaborates with local and foreign Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to coordinate and make concerted efforts to bridge gaps and ensure equity and justice in the distribution of resources overseas.
As a collaborator of Pope Francis, Cardinal Goh reminds us that the world is our common home. Much harm has been done to Mother Earth and we have to grow in the awareness of our responsibility towards the ecology. Solving climate change means protecting the planet and vulnerable people, and we must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. Faith can guide us, and hope remains if we act in honesty and in love. In the words of Pope Francis, “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home … Truly, much can be done!” How can we change our day to day choices and actions to live more sustainably?
The Archdiocese of Singapore has long been a staunch supporter of interreligious dialogue. Catholics here live in a multi-religious and multi-racial society, and must build ties of trust, friendship and mutual respect with their neighbours of different faiths. As Church, we listen deeply and find common grounds on issues pertaining to the common good. These include the importance of religious freedom and respect for all from different religions and races.
Catholics are also aware of the dangers of syncretism and irenicism. We are called to respect the belief of others while upholding the teachings of the Church. Nostra Aetate, a Vatican Council II document that guides our relation with non-Christian religions, mentions that the Church “rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions … nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all people.”
As people of faith, we are invited to reflect and participate in the vision of God for our world and to build a common home for our sisters and brothers.