Catholics in Singapore celebrate archbishop’s elevation as country’s first cardinal

More than 3,500 people gathered for a thanksgiving event, which was attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on September 8

The people of Singapore celebrated last week the elevation of Archbishop William Goh to the College of Cardinals, the first for the country.

“The appointment of His Eminence William Goh as cardinal is historic for Singapore and Singaporeans,” said Masagos Zulkifli, the country’s Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health, and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs.

“We appreciate the honor that is bestowed to him for his leadership and his commitment to spread harmony, peace among various faiths. And to lead this effort – not just for Singapore and Singaporeans but also for the region,” he added.

Pope Francis is shown with Cardinal William Goh of Singapore at the consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica, on Aug. 27, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Singapore)

More than 3,500 people gathered for a thanksgiving event, which was attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Ministers K Shanmugam, Vivian Balakrishnan, Edwin Tong, and other members of parliament, on September 8 at the 175-year-old parish of St Joseph’s Church.

Bishops and priests from the Catholic bishops conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei also came to show their “fraternal support and joy” for the new cardinal.

In a commemorative book titled “That They May Live,” Cardinal Goh outlined his pastoral view as he begins a new role in the Catholic Church.

He has earlier set out four “thrusts” for his cardinalate — Faith in Asia, Aid to the Poorest and the Least, Climate Action, and a New Way of Inter-religious Dialogue for Human Fraternity.

Archbishop Marek Zalewski, apostolic nuncio to Singapore and non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam, said Cardinal Goh’s appointment as the first cardinal from Singapore “can be seen in the light of the growing need for the Asian Church to contribute more to the Universal Church.”

“I can observe that Singapore is well-suited to contribute fresh ideas to the Church in Asia,” he said, adding that the Holy See “appreciates the talent of the Archdiocese of Singapore.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (in suit and tie) and Mdm Ho Ching (wife of PM Lee in blue floral top), pose with Cardinal William Goh and members of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Singapore Presbyterium during the thanksgiving event on Sept. 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Singapore)

Father Valerian Cheong, chairman of the Senate of Priests in the Archdiocese of Singapore, described the elevation of Cardinal Goh as “a providential sign as our Church enters its 201st year.”

“A new era has dawned in which God seems to be asking the Archdiocese of Singapore through its cardinal to serve Asia more broadly,” said the priest.

Cardinal Goh was born in 1957 and is the fourth archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore.

He attended Montfort Secondary, where he received his high school diploma and entered the seminary in 1979 and began his studies in Philosophy at the Major Seminary at Penang, and Theology at the Major Seminary of Singapore.

On May 1, 1985, he was ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Singapore and was later named Assistant Parish Priest in the Church of the Holy Cross from 1985-1989.

He went on to complete his Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome in 1992.

Upon his return, he was appointed formator and lecturer at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary from 1992-2005.

In 2005, he was made rector and spiritual director of the Catholic Spirituality Centre until he took office as archbishop.

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