PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE ARCHBISHOP REGARDING ST JOSEPH CHURCH, VICTORIA STREET
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Many of you have read the Sunday Times article of 11 August, 2013 regarding the Decree of Removal and Transfer issued to Rev Fr Michael Teo.
There are questions as to why this sudden turn of events, why it is necessary to resort to this course of action, and whether there is a better way of managing the issues.
It pains me much to have to deal with matters of the Church administration in so public a manner, knowing how disagreements and schisms within the Church affect the Body of Christ, and how hurtful it is to all parties involved.
However, I feel it is important at this juncture to provide a more rounded perspective of the issues at hand, so that you can all appreciate the complexity of the problem and how long and hard the former administration under the helm of His Grace, Archbishop Emeritus, and now that of my team, have struggled to mediate a just and amicable settlement of the differences among the stakeholders of the SJC Stained Glass restoration project, so that the work can proceed according to plan.
Suffice to say that there are many parties involved in this project, including the government under the stewardship of the Preservation of Monuments Board, which is co-funding the project. The challenges in executing the project have resulted in an acrimonious situation, causing the project to be stalled for over a year. All attempts at mediation have failed to yield a breakthrough and every party is equally aggrieved.
It is clearly untenable for the situation to remain unresolved, and much as we feel with Fr Teo, the administration under my charge were left with no other option but to invoke the earlier notice of his removal from the project issued by the then Archbishop Nicholas Chia. Not to do so would subject the Church to civil suits, and this may cause even greater damage to the standing of the Church in society.
It was thus with a heavy heart that my consultors and I decided on the present course of action, following much discernment, prayer and soul searching. At the end of the day, the larger interests of the Church must be served.
This is a truly painful and difficult time for the Church, and I beseech you, my flock, to pray for healing of all aggrieved parties and for unity in the Church. Pray also for me, your shepherd, and my team, for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance and the courage to do what is right and just.
Finally, I seek your understanding and co-operation to suspend judgement and to refrain from indulging in any form of speculative conversations that might cause more hurt to individuals and to the Church, but to join in prayer and supplication to the Lord for His Church.
Yours in Christ,
Msgr William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
12 August 2013