The first such visit since Singapore established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1981

Cardinal Pietro Parolin greets local Catholics after celebrating Mass at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St, on  Aug 16.  Photo: DOMINIC WONG
The Church in Singapore is called to chart a way forward for herself and in her service to society in the next 50 years.

This was a message that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, had for the congregation gathered at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St, on Aug 16.

“While much has been achieved over the span of 50 years, the work is never finished,” he said, adding that “the torch” would have to be “passed on to the next generation of citizens”.

Cardinal Parolin, considered the highest Vatican official under the pope, was in Singapore for an official visit from Aug 15-17. It was the first such visit from a Vatican Secretary of State since Singapore established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1981.

In his homily for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he noted how on July 4, the Church here rejoiced in prayers and festivity during its SG50 celebration at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

“I join in your gladness and congratulate you, wishing peace and prosperity for your beloved country,” he said.

Noting that the Catholic Church has been present in Singapore for almost 200 years, he invited the community to “look with some urgency at new and creative ways of carrying forward the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in a changing society.

“This includes addressing the new challenges that emerge in a globalised and more connected world; offering practical assistance to an emerging reality in need of guidance.”

The cardinal said he was glad to note that the Church here serves not only in the fields of education and health but also cares for the poor, the elderly, those marginalised by sickness, and offenders.

“We should not, however, simply allow these initiatives, good though they undoubtedly are, to obscure the personal obligation, incumbent on each one of us, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in reaching out to the lost, the last and the least,” he said.

As Singapore continues to progress in its contribution to the international community, he said it is important for the Church to be in partnership with all people of good will “in recognising the place of religious faiths, virtue and morality as essential foundations of a society and nation”.

Prior to the Mass, in the presence of Archbishop William Goh, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli and other Church officials, he blessed commemorative plaques for five churches, most of which have been recently renovated, undergoing renovation, or being built.

These were: Church of the Transfiguration, Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Novena Church, Church of Sts Peter and Paul and St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St.

Later in the afternoon, Cardinal Parolin visited Church institutions such as St Patrick’s School, Mount Alvernia Hospital, Assisi Hospice, St Theresa’s Home, St Francis Xavier Major Seminary and the Carmelite Monastery.

On Aug 17, he met with government leaders and congratulated them on the nation’s golden jubilee.

By Jared Ng
[email protected]

Additional reporting: CHRISTOPHER KHOO