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EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal William Goh of Singapore: ‘Deep Encounter With Jesus’ Is Key to Passing on the Faith

Pope Francis recently announced his intention to travel to Southeast Asia in September to visit Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore. The island-nation of Singapore is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse regions in Asia and is home to about 395,000 Catholics. The small but strategically important nation also has the highest urban density in Asia but is ranked as the country with the highest quality of life. Like everywhere else, it also faces the threats of secularism and relativism and a loss of traditional values, especially a commitment to family and respect for the elderly.

The spiritual shepherd of the Church in Singapore is Cardinal William Goh, archbishop since early 2013 and a cardinal since 2022. He sat down in his residence in Singapore on April 19 with Matthew Bunson, EWTN News’ vice president and editorial director, to discuss the Holy Father’s upcoming trip, the College of Cardinals, the synodal process, and the challenges and opportunities for the Church in Asia.

In the following edited transcript, Cardinal Goh, 66, observes that “most of us” in the College of Cardinals “do not know each other,” a disadvantage for a body that will one day be called upon to choose a successor to Pope Francis. The cardinal also suggests the need for “another level” to the Synod on Synodality beyond its second and final assembly this October — namely a bishops-only synod. The existing synod, which includes bishops, clergy and laypeople, “cannot really be considered a theological dogmatic synod,” he says, because not all of the delegates are theologically trained.


Your Eminence, I’m so grateful for your time. I know that you’re a very busy man, even busier now with the announcement that Pope Francis is going to be visiting Singapore. I’d like to start with a question about yourself. You are a native Singaporean?


Could you talk about your faith journey, especially leading to the priesthood, to being a bishop, and now to being a member of the College of Cardinals?

My faith journey is really from hindsight. When I look at my life, it’s really a faith-filled journey, but truly a grace of God. My family is not extremely religious, except perhaps for my mother. But when I was young, being an introvert, instead of joining my fellow classmates to play before class, I would go to the church to pray the Rosary, at the age of 7. At the age of 12, I was bringing the Divine Office, although I didn’t know what it was all about. And then I joined the altar servers. I was also in the Crusaders. And then we started the Rosary Club, where 100 young people would come every evening in the school. … During the recess, they would come to pray the Rosary, 60 of them; instead of going for their recess, for their food, they came to pray. And then later on, I was very much attracted to this vocation, and I joined the seminary; and then I was ordained, and then I was assistant priest for a few years, and then they sent me to Rome for further studies. [When] I came back, I taught in the seminary for 22 years.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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