OCTOBER 26, 2008, Vol 58, No 22


VATICAN CITY – The current global financial crisis illustrates why it is a mistake to build a life on passing realities like money and success, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"We see this today in the collapse of the great banks: This money disappears, it’s nothing. And so all these things we thought were real and were counting on are in fact realities of a second order," he said on Oct 6, the day European stock markets plummeted following news of government bailouts for two more mortgage and banking companies.

"We need to change our idea of realism. The realist is someone who recognizes in the word of God, in this reality that appears so weak, the foundation of everything," he said.

The pope made the impromptu remarks at the opening session of the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible. He said the morning’s Scripture readings had brought to mind Christ’s parable of the two houses, one built on sand and one built on rock.

"On sand is built only things we can see and touch: success, career, money. Apparently they are real, but one day they pass," he said. He said the banking crisis demonstrated how quickly they can disappear.

"Whoever builds his life on these things – on material things, on success, on appearances – is building on sand," he said.

The true realist is someone who builds his life on the things that remain, recognizing God’s place in his own life, he said.

Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pope’s reference to the banking crisis underlined an obvious contrast between eternal truths and the realities that occupy a great part of people’s lives.

"Here we have institutions – financial and political – upon which people relied as if they were ultimate," the cardinal told Catholic News Service.

"There is nothing ultimate except God and the word of God, which is, as (the pope) said, more real than all the material dimension of creation that so preoccupies us," he said.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said at a press conference that the pope clearly was offering a spiritual reflection, not an evaluation of financial problems.

"The pope’s main theme was not the current economic situation, but the value and importance of the word of God in the human journey," the archbishop said.

He said that although economic issues are important in human society, Christians sometimes forget that they are not the ultimate realities for man. -





SINGAPORE – The remains of Archbishops Michael Olcomendy and Gregory Yong were interred in the walls of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Oct 10. A congregation of some 500 attended the ceremony and a Requiem Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia and 21 priests.

In his sermon, Archbishop Chia gave a brief biography of the first two Archbishops of Singapore, and exhorted the congregation to "follow their good example" of building up the church in Singapore and in the world.

Archbishop Olcomendy was ordained bishop and installed as Archbishop of Malacca in 1947, when he was in charge of the whole Malaysia peninsula.

In 1953, two dioceses – Kuala Lumpur and Penang – were created, and Archbishop Olcomendy became Archbishop of Malacca-Singapore. When the Johore and Malacca dioceses separated from Singapore in 1973, he became the first Archbishop of Singapore.

Archbishop Olcomendy retired in 1976, and passed away on Jul 4, 1977. His remains had previously been in the Church of St. Joseph (Bukit Timah) columbarium.

Archbishop Gregory Yong was consecrated Bishop of Penang in 1968, and installed as the second Archbishop of Singapore in 1977. His resignation was accepted on Oct 14, 2000. He passed away on Jun 28 this year. - By Daniel Tay

PENANG – The Major Seminary in Penang, commonly called College General, celebrated the 200th anniversary of its establishment in Penang, on Oct 2.

The celebration, held on the grounds of the new seminary buildings at Teluk Bungah, brought together 13 archbishops and bishops and more than 100 priests, from East and West Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar – all former students of the college.

Singapore was represented by Archbishop Nicholas Chia, and 10 priests and seminarians from the Major Seminary in Singapore.

Penang Bishop Antony Selvanayagam was the main Mass celebrant and Archbishop John Ha of Kuching, the homilist.

The College General was first established in 1665 in Ayuthia, near Bangkok, by the Paris Foreign Missions (MEP). It was moved to Cambodia following the persecution of Christians in Thailand, and then to Pondicherry, India and finally to Pulau Tikus on the island of Penang in 1808.

It was orignially known as the College of Angels; the name was later changed to College General when it took in seminarians from the region.

Five MEP priests – Father Michael Arro from Singapore among them – who administered the college before it was handed over to the local clergy in 1970, also attended the celebrations.

The hundreds of Vietnamese priests who studied in College General were represented by Vietnamese working in Butterworth.

Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia, and over a 1,000 parishioners joined in the celebrations.

Pope Benedict’s Message for World Mission Sunday 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the occasion of the World Mission Sunday, I would like to invite you to reflect on the continuing urgency to proclaim the Gospel also in our times. The missionary mandate continues to be an absolute priority for all baptized persons who are called to be "servants and apostles of Christ Jesus" at the beginning of this millennium.

As a model of this apostolic commitment, I would like to point to Saint Paul in particular, the Apostle of the nations, because this year we are celebrating a special jubilee dedicated to him. It is the Pauline Year which offers us the opportunity to become familiar with this famous Apostle who received the vocation to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, according to what the Lord had announced to him: "‘Go, I shall send you far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21). How can we not take the opportunity that this special jubilee offers to the local churches, the Christian communities and the individual faithful to propagate the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the world, the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Cf. Rm 1:16)?

Humanity is in need of liberation

Humanity needs to be liberated and redeemed. Creation itself – as Saint Paul says – suffers and nurtures the hope that it will share in the freedom of the children of God (Cf. Rm 8:19-22). These words are true in today’s world too. Creation is suffering and waiting for real freedom; it is waiting for a different, better world; it is waiting for "redemption". And deep down it knows that this new world that is awaited supposes a new man; it supposes "children of God". Let us take a closer look at the situation of today’s world. While, on the one hand, the international panorama presents prospects for promising economic and social development, on the other it brings some great concerns to our attention about the very future of man. Violence, in many cases, marks the relations between persons and peoples. Poverty oppresses millions of inhabitants. Discrimination and sometimes even persecution for racial, cultural and religious reasons drive many people to flee from their own countries in order to seek refuge and protection elsewhere. Technological progress, when it is not aimed at the dignity and good development, loses its potentiality as a factor of hope and runs the risk, on the contrary, of increasing already existing imbalances and injustices. There is, moreover, a constant threat regarding the man-environment relation due to the indiscriminate use of resources, with repercussions on the physical and mental health of human beings. Man’s future is also put at risk by the attempts on his life, which take on various forms and means.

Is there hope for the future, or rather, is there a future for humanity? And what will this future be like? The answer to these questions comes to those of us who believe from the Gospel. Christ is our future, and as I wrote in the Encyclical Letter "Spe Salvi", his Gospel is a "life-changing" communication that gives hope, throws open
the dark door of time and illuminates the future of humanity and the
university (Cf. No. 2). Saint Paul had understood well that only in Christ can humanity find redemption and hope. Therefore, he perceived that the mission was pressing and urgent to proclaim "the promise of life in Christ Jesus" (2 Tm 1:1), "our hope" (1 Tm 1:1), so that all peoples could be co-heirs and co-partners in the promise through the Gospel (Cf. Eph 3:6). He was aware that without Christ humanity is "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2:12) – "without hope because they were without God" ("Spe Salvi", No. 3). In fact, "anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph 2:12)" (Ivi, No. 27).

The Mission is a question of love

It is therefore an urgent duty for everyone to proclaim Christ and his saving message. Saint Paul said, "Woe to me if I do not preach it [the Gospel]!" (1 Cor 9:16) Love of Christ led him to travel over the roads of the Roman Empire as a herald, an apostle, a preacher and a teacher of the Gospel of which he declared himself to be an "ambassador in chains" (Eph 6:20). By looking at Saint Paul’s experience, we understand that missionary activity is a response to the love with which God loves us. His love redeems us and prods us to the missio ad gentes. It is the spiritual energy that can make the harmony, justice and communion grow among persons, races and peoples to which everyone aspires (Cf. Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est", 12). So it is God, who is Love, who leads the church towards the frontiers of humanity and calls the evangelizers to drink "from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est", No. 7).

Only from this source can care, tenderness, compassion, hospitality, availability and interest in people’s problems be drawn, as well as the other virtues necessary for the messengers of the Gospel to leave everything and dedicate themselves completely and unconditionally to spreading the perfume of Christ’s charity around the world.

Evangelize always

While the first evangelization continues to be necessary and urgent in many regions of the world, today a shortage of clergy and a lack of vocations afflict various dioceses and institutes of consecrated life. It is important to reaffirm that even in the presence of growing difficulties, Christ’s command to evangelize all peoples continues to be a priority. No reason can justify its slackening or stagnation because "the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the church" (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi",
No. 14). It is a mission that "is still only beginning and we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service" (John Paul II, Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio", No. 1). Today there are countless people who are waiting for the proclamation of the Gospel, those who are thirsting for hope and love.

Woe to me if i do not preach it!

(1 Cor 9:16)

Dear faithful laity, you who act in the different areas of society are all called to take part in an increasingly important way in spreading the Gospel. Give witness with your lives that Christians "belong to a new society
which is the goal of their common pilgrimage and which is anticipated in the course of that pilgrimage" ("Spe Salvi", No. 4).


Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the celebration of World Mission Day encourage everyone to take renewed awareness of the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel. Lastly, may prayer be intensified ever more in the Christian people, the essential spiritual means for spreading among all peoples the light of Christ, the "light par excellence" that illuminates "the darkness of history" ("Spe Salvi", No. 49).

From the Vatican, May 11, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI

SINGAPORE – Sixteen parishes in Singapore have some kind of missionary activity! This was discovered in the course of an ACMA survey of all parishes here.

Missionary activities in Singapore include food/soup kitchens, visits to old folks homes and children homes and "street evangelization" of youths and RCIA participants at shopping centres and Orchard Road.

Beyond our shores, groups have visited and ministered to mission bases in the Indonesian Riau Islands, Thailand, Central Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and even India.

In these mission bases, they have lived among the poor, provided regular nutritious food to children, built learning centres and schools, supported children’s education, taught English and visited displaced and marginalized persons, orphanages and those physically challenged.

On a personal level, Singaporeans have participated in house-building after the 2004 tsunami, have served in communities in Kenya, launched water purification systems, and helped build a small school and a Catholic centre in Cambodia.

In addition, three persons have been identified as serving in Cambodia, primarily as educators. ACMA hopes that Catholics who are similarly responding to the Lord’s call to bring and be the Good News to others will contact ACMA through the ACMA email/website.

All this information will be collated and entered into a database that will be accessible through the Internet. Catholics wishing to serve as missionaries or those who would like to visit a mission base will be able to glean information through this means.