Archbishop Goh urges Catholics to take up Pope Francis’ mission of being people of mercy at Pope’s Day Mass

Archbishop William Goh and Msgr Yovko Pishtiyski, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Apostolic Nunciature in Singapore, celebrating the Pope’s Day Mass on March 11.  Photo: VITA Images

By Christopher Khoo

Follow Pope Francis in being people of mercy, people who are welcoming, people who are not afraid to go beyond their comfort zone, said Archbishop William Goh during the annual Pope’s Day Mass.

Speaking to the congregation gathered at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd for the 10.30 am Mass on March 11, he stressed that the thrust of the pope’s pontificate over the past five years have been about mercy, inclusivity, joy, compassion, forgiveness and life.

Pope Francis “speaks of a Church that is a welcoming Church”, not a cold, legalistic one, said Archbishop Goh at the Mass to mark the fifth anniversary of the pope’s election.

“He believes in a Church that comes out of itself to the world, reaching out to those on the periphery,” he told the congregation which included priests, Religious, ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps.

The pope isn’t speaking about people living on the geographical periphery, but those on the “existential periphery”, those who are in misery, suffering from pain, injustices, illness and poverty, said Archbishop Goh in his homily.

“These are the people the Church is called to reach out to,” he said, noting that Pope Francis has said many times that he wanted a Church “that is bruised, hurting and dirty, not a Church that is confined in her security, looking always within”.

“The Church is not about ourselves. The Church is about humanity, about society,” said Archbishop Goh.

And that is why the pope wants the Church to be a Church of mercy, a Church that is welcoming to everyone, including sinners, said Archbishop Goh.

“The Church that Pope Francis speaks of is a Church that goes beyond rules, doctrines, and laws. The Church that he believes in cannot be just a Church of dos and don’ts,” said Archbishop Goh.

However, that does not mean that Pope Francis does not hold on to the truths of the Gospel. “Of course he does,” said Archbishop Goh. “What he is speaking about is that we need to put people’s existential problems and needs before the ideals.

“The doctrines, the truths we proclaim – these are the ideals. But people are struggling to live out the ideals. And that is why the Holy Father invites us to apply the Gospel of mercy in reaching out to these people,” said Archbishop Goh.

He noted that for those with same-sex orientation, the pope has said, “Who am I to judge?”

“Those of you whose marriages are failing, those of you who have been divorced and remarried, the Holy Father knows your struggles. He knows your pain. Nobody gets married to be divorced, let’s face the fact,” said Archbishop Goh.

“These are manifestations of a wounded humanity. Therefore we need to be welcoming, we cannot afford to be judgemental.”

For those who are suffering, “we must help them discern, accompany them. And more than anybody else, these are the people who need our support and love”, said Archbishop Goh. “This is what a merciful Church is all about. This is a Church that reaches out to the periphery.”

He urged the congregation to “take up this same mission; follow Pope Francis in being people of mercy, people who are welcoming, people who are not afraid to go beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone”.

At the end of the Mass, Msgr Yovko Pishtiyski, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Apostolic Nunciature in Singapore, thanked the congregation for their “constant prayers” for the pope and for their generous support of Peter’s Pence, a papal charity.

He conveyed to the congregation the greetings of the Holy Father and his apostolic blessing upon them and their families. 

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