Singapore (AsiaNews) - Singapore is a "young nation" that is "proud" of what it has achieved "in a relatively short period of time"; from "a colonial outpost, our nation has transformed itself in such a short period of time to be one of the richest countries in the world", but material wealth is not enough if you are not as "rich in virtue".
This is the focus of a long pastoral letter from the archbishop of Singapore, Msgr. William Goh Seng Chye, on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of Independence Day, celebrated today August 9th to commemorate the city states separation from Malaysia in 1965. In his letter, however, the prelate cites a recent survey that "reports that we are also one of the unhappiest countries".
Smaller than New York and devoid of natural resources, the city-state is one of the top economies of the Asian continent even if its wealth is not equally distributed and the economic boom has accentuated the disparity between citizens.
This is why Msgr. Goh has taken advantage of the national holiday, to invite the faithful to "share our abundance with those less fortunate"; He also hopes that "the spirit of volunteerism is instilled in our young people" in favor of the poor and marginalized in society.
In his pastoral letter the Archbishop of Singapore says that "to refuse solidarity with those on the fringes of society would be to reject Christ" and that "as we enjoy our riches and achievements, we must remain humble and be mindful of preserving and strengthening the values that have enabled us to be successful".
The prelate notes that if the nation is to remain "strong and cohesive", it "must focus on nurturing the next generation. Formation of citizens with integrity, good moral values and who care for one another must therefore begin in our homes; for strong families form the bedrock of every nation, contributing to the economic and social progress for the good of humanity". Because "it is within the family that our children undergo the first school of faith and formation in virtues and character that are the animating principles of the existence and development of society itself".
Celebrating the birth of the nation, Msgr. Goh, asks for a "justice tempered by compassion" and for "peace, unity, mutual understanding and tolerance." He concludes by inviting the current ruling class to be inspired by the hope, courage and strength "of our founding fathers."
In Singapore Catholics number more than 200,000, or about 5 per cent of the total population. Buddhism has the largest following with 33 per cent, followed by Christianity with 18 per cent, Islam with 15 per cent, and Taoism and Hinduism with 11 and 5 per cent respectively.
The local church is going through a phase of growth and dynamism illustrated by the opening of a theological seminary, a real "milestone" for the local community.