... says Archbishop Goh at Mass to mark anniversary of pope’s election


Apostolic nuncio to Singapore, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli celebrating the Mass to mark Pope Francis’ election anniversary.

Pope Francis has a dream, to make the Church “great again” in reaching out to the world, “to show forth the merciful love of God”, said Archbishop William Goh.

He was speaking at a Mass to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.

Speaking to a packed Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on March 12, Archbishop Goh noted that the pope wants to “build a Church that is relevant to society”, that can respond to the needs and trends of today’s world.

The pope understands that if the Church does not enter into “a real dialogue with the world”, the Church will be “redundant”.

Archbishop Goh said that many people outside the Church, and even among Catholics, feel that the Church is too institutional. They feel that the Church “is cold – with rituals, with disciplines, with laws”.

“Pope Francis understands this,” said the archbishop. “An institution without a heart is not a Church.”

“Hence for Pope Francis, everybody must be included in the Church. This must be an inclusive Church for everyone, for the divorced, for people with same-sex orientation, for the poor, for the rich, for the elderly, for the handicapped, for those who are mentally disadvantaged”.

However, this does not mean that the pope is saying that the doctrines of the Church can be compromised, said Archbishop Goh.


Archbishop Goh delivering his homily.

It is important to underscore the “law of gradualness”, he stressed.

The Church’s pastoral “law of gradualness” refers to a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and a decisive break with sin.

Archbishop Goh explained that “everybody is called to attain the ideal of the Gospel … but not everyone is there”.

Under the “law of gradualness”, “we help people in their struggles”, said Archbishop Goh, adding that “people who are struggling must be accepted”.

He noted that it is difficult to live the Gospel life in today’s society for people like married couples. Many young children today are also without love because parents have no time for them, he noted.


The Singapore and Holy See flags flank a portrait of Pope Francis.

Archbishop Goh said the problem with the Church today as he sees it is “intolerance”.

“We cannot accept that people are different. We cannot accept that sometimes things are different. We cannot accept the weaknesses of others. We cannot accept the imperfections of others,” he said.

“Where is Christian charity? Where is Christian patience and forgiveness?” he asked.

“We are reminded today to listen to Pope Francis,” he stressed. “Make this is a Church of hospitality, a Church of forgiveness, a Church of acceptance and tolerance.”

Apostolic nuncio to Singapore, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, in a speech at the end of the special Mass which is held annually, thanked Catholics in Singapore for their prayers for the pope and their generosity in contributing to Peter’s Pence, a financial support for the charitable works of the pope.

He also invoked the pope’s apostolic blessing on all present. 

By Christopher Khoo
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