12/05/2015, 00.00
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For Singapore’s archbishop, only mercy can save a selfish and material world

In a pastoral letter for the beginning of the Jubilee Year, Mgr Goh calls for action against the notion of “utility” that dominates our lives. He encourages us to look to Christ as the source of love and reconciliation, and urges us to pray the Rosary, make pilgrimages, confess and receive the Eucharist.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – Mgr William Goh Seng Chye, archbishop of Singapore, yesterday released a pastoral letter in connection with the start of the Year of Mercy, which AsiaNews is publishing today.

Proclaimed by Pope Francis, the Jubilee of Mercy will open on 8 December with celebrations not only in Rome, but in all the dioceses of the world and the main shrines. As part of this, the Archdiocese of Singapore is getting ready with meetings, prayers and works of pastoral outreach.

For Mgr Goh, “What the world needs most today, more than at any time in history, is mercy. In the world of science and technology, there is no place for mercy. This lack of mercy is evident in the violent destruction of human life and habitat. Ironically, such acts are often justified in the name of justice. Many of these acts of terrorism are committed in the name of God and love.

“In the guise of mercy, we advocate the abortion of babies so that they will not be without parental love; euthanasia is encouraged so that the elderly need not suffer loneliness or meaningless pain in their illness. The truth is that such actions are contrary to our profession of love and mercy, for where there is love and compassion, we will truly care for the helpless babies and the elderly.

In his pastoral letter, Mgr Goh goes on to note that in today's world, mercy seems to have lost its core value for society and human relations. This can be seen “in the way we regard sinners and those who have hurt us.” Indeed, “The Church, as the mercy of Christ, must reach out to such people and show them compassion and understanding.

Therefore, “In the light of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us join Pope Francis in reiterating the centrality of the gospel of mercy” so that we can meet society’s marginalised, downtrodden and neglected members, and “find a pastoral approach to help people to live up to the ideals of perfect love and to show compassion when they fall short in spite of their sincerity”.

For the prelate, “if mercy is lacking, it also stems from hidden and unresolved anger and resentment in our hearts. Many of us who have been hurt by our parents, superiors and even our peers cannot let go of the hurts or even abuses we have suffered.”

At the same time, “the lack of mercy comes from selfishness, self-centeredness and slavishness to the pleasures of the world. It comes from the sins of envy, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. We want to satisfy our own pleasures.”

Hence, in an “age of individualism, materialism, and consumerism,” how “can we become channels of God’s mercy? By being aware and conscious of our sins, inadequacies, lack of fulfilment, love and forgiveness!

More specifically, “How, then, can we open ourselves to God’s mercy?” To do so, “We must contemplate on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Reading and praying the scriptures with devotion, contemplating on the Father of mercy and the paschal mystery of our Lord, especially on the cross and at the Eucharist, is of great help.

Thus, “During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I propose that Catholics undertake prayerful spiritual pilgrimages in our backyard, visiting designated parishes, particularly the Church of Divine Mercy.

“In the same vein, I encourage all Catholics to make regular confession, at least once a month, and attend at least one Mass a week in addition to Sunday Mass.

Singapore is home to some 200,000 Catholics, 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, and a Caritas facility for sick people and the poor.

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