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Special papal envoy Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino was in Singapore from June 20-24 to celebrate the occasion.

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While here, Cardinal Martino spoke to priests, religious and laity on the church's social teaching, and gave a public lecture on the role of religions to promote peace and solidarity.

He celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd where the statue of the late Pope John Paul II was unveiled, and presented the gift of a chalice from Pope Benedict to the Singapore church.

A dinner, attended by government, diplomatic and church representatives, was held to celebrate the occasion.

The cardinal also called on Singapore leaders, and visited Mt. Alvernia Hospital, St. Joseph's Home and the Carmelite monastery.

Messages from Vatican City Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, and Archbishop Nicholas Chia follow...

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Message to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong from Vatican City Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano

From the Vatican, 31 March 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

It is with great pleasure that I extend warm greetings to Your Excellency and the people of Singapore on the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Singapore and the Holy See. This significant occasion rightly calls for a celebration of the cordial relations which have flourished since 24 June 1981, marked by our common desire to promote the values of justice, peace and harmony in Asia and beyond.

The Holy See's diplomatic relations form a part of its mission of service to the international community. Its engagement with civil society is anchored in a steadfast commitment to the defence of the dignity of the human person and the building of a more just world for peoples of all cultures and religions. To this end, the Holy See's diplomatic activity seeks always to uphold the transcendent dimension of human life, thereby countering the tendency towards social fragmentation and secularism prevalent in many countries today.

The attentive promotion of an authentic spirit of unity in diversity is, I am well aware, dear to the people of Singapore. Your nation has been greatly enriched by the variety of ethnic groups living in peace with one another. Indeed, its widely recognized economic acumen can be attributed in good part to the stability and social cohesion which stems from its earnest espousal of religious tolerance and appreciation of the need to foster the spiritual aspect of human life. Without the protection of such fundamental pillars of human society, social and economic development will always be thwarted.

The history of our diplomatic relations has also seen a practical commitment to the truth which leads to "encounter with the other, to recognition and understanding" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2006). In this regard, the "Third Country Training Programme", founded in 1996, is an outstanding example of bilateral collaboration for the benefit of others. Working together, the Government of Singapore and the Holy See have funded the training of numerous young people from your neighbouring countries who have returned to their own communities equipped with the professional and linguistic skills needed to foster development. Likewise, the exhibition recently hosted by the Asian Civilisations Museum, entitled "Journey of Faith: Art and History from the Vatican Collections", was a remarkable example of how cultural exchanges can enrich communities and promote understanding and respect. The tens of thousands who visited the exhibition were undoubtedly edified by this creative exposé of historical, religious and culture values.

Mr. Prime Minister, as we look to the future with hope I am confident that the good will and initiative which has characterized the bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Singapore will be strengthened by this Twenty-fifth Anniversary, and will in turn benefit the countries of your Region. I also pray that the splendour of the Almighty's truth will continue to shine upon the people of Singapore, leading them along the path of peace and prosperity, and inspiring in them the desire to pursue the noble ideals common to all humanity.

Yours sincerely,

 

Angelo Card. Sodano

Secretary of State

Vatican City

Rome

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Message to Vatican City Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

19 April 2006

Your Eminence,

I thank Your Eminence for the warm expressions of goodwill contained in your letter of 31 March 2006 and reciprocate them in full measure. I look forward to the celebration of the 25 Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Holy See this June.

Situated at the cross-roads of East and West, Singapore is a secular city-state with citizens who belong to all the world's major religions. We celebrate this diversity in our daily lives. We are fortunate to have religious leaders, including leaders from the Catholic Church, who understand the importance of mutual respect and tolerance and promote inter-faith dialogue.

The Catholic Church has always played an important role in Singapore society, running schools and charities which serve Singaporeans of all race and religions. I myself have many fond memories of the six years in secondary school in the Catholic High School, run by the Marist brothers, which not only gave me a sound academic education, but also imbued me with values and attitudes which have stood me in good stead ever since.

I warmly welcome the forthcoming visit of the Special Envoy of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, His eminence Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino. His speech on "The Role of Religions in Promoting Peace and Solidarity and Denouncing Terrorism" will resonate with all Singaporeans.

We value our relations with the Holy See. Through the Third Country Training Programme, we have been working together on many projects to assist others in need. The cooperation between our Museums also helps to promote greater understanding of Europe's cultural interactions with Asia over the centuries. The recent Vatican Exhibition at Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum from June to October 2005 was a great success.

It has been many years since Pope John Paul II visited Singapore in 1986. May I also take this opportunity to invite His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to visit Singapore at a time of his convenience.

Yours sincerely,

 

Lee Hsien Loong

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Message from President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino

Rome, 2nd April 2006

I am indeed honoured to be appointed Special Envoy of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic Religions between the Holy See and the Republic of Singapore.

By this assignment, the Holy Father deigned to underscore the role that I was privileged to play in the relations between the Holy See and Singapore. In fact, as soon as I was appointed Apostolic Delegate for Singapore, in September 1980, I was assigned the duty of negotiating with the Government of Singapore for the establishment of the relations. These negotiations reached the apex on the 24th of June 1981, with the announcements of the beginning of Diplomatic Relations and my appointment as the first Apostolic Nuncio. As a matter of fact, this decision of both Governments indicated a coincidence in various aspects of their policies and a recognition of the similarity of actions while acting in different fields.

Indeed, Singapore and the Holy See share many values and priorities: Respect and total development of the person, integrity, justice, mutual understanding and tolerance, respect and support of marriage and of the family institution, dignity of work, proper development of resources and potentials, compassion and help for the least favoured members of the society, rights and duties of the individual with regard to the common good, striving for peace and happiness at home, in the country and in the world.

Besides the establishment of Relations between Singapore and the Holy See, my mission was also characterized by another historic event: The visit of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II to Singapore on the 20th of November 1986. That august visit was successful thanks not only to the commitment of the local Church but also to the excellent collaboration and assistance of different Offices of the Singapore Government.

I am really happy and honoured to participate at the celebrations marking this 25th anniversary, and I cannot but wish that common actions between the Holy See and the Republic of Singapore be intensified wherever possible. I am sure that the Holy See will respond positively to every initiative to that end and that at the same time the Singapore catholic community will always respond to every appeal to collaboration and to mutual understanding in this singular multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural community.

 

Renato Raffaele Card. MARTINO

President of the Pontifical Council

for Justice and Peace

Special envoy of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Singapore

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Message from Archbishop of Singapore Nicholas Chia

Diplomatic Relations between

the Holy See and

the Republic of Singapore -

25 Anniversary June 2006

"Go out to the whole world. Teach ye all nations" - Missionaries head this command of our Lord and travelled far and wide to plan the seed of the Gospel. The Church in Singapore was established in the early 19th Century.

Since its establishment, the Church has grown and has contributed to the development of the nation in the areas of academics and moral education, social services, religious harmony, promotion of law and order, freedom, justice and peace.

In 1981, the Diplomatic Relations between the Holy See and Singapore were established and we are happy to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.

These Diplomatic Relations show that the State recognizes the role of the Holy See in the International Community and of the Church in the development of the nation. We are grateful that the State recognizes the freedom of religion and supports all positive efforts towards nation building.

This recognition should encourage us to put in our best efforts to contribute to the peace and prosperity of our Nation. Our Schools and Institutions must continue to nurture our children and youths. We must contribute towards the welfare of the aged and sick, the poor and the migrants. We must put in efforts to promote moral values and religious harmony and contribute towards the stability and prosperity of our Nation.

We are very proud and grateful that Singapore is respected as a peaceful, clean, honest, and prosperous country and as Church we pledge our support to maintain this reputation. God bless the Holy See and Singapore!

 

Archbishop Nicholas Chia

Archbishop of Singapore

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