Singapore ( AsiaNews) - The
opening of the Theological Institute of Singapore ( CTIS ) will encourage the
formation of lay Catholics in a more "systematic" and "in-depth"
study of theology boosting skills and knowledge. Msgr. William
Goh, archbishop of the city-state, emphasized the advantages of the institute
inaugurated on January 22 in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli,
priests, nuns and lay people. Pondering
God, our relationship with Him, , according to the prelate , are already elements
of "theology". The
difference between a theologian and a simple Christian, he adds, is that the
former reflects and analyzes "the faith in a systematic and methodical"
reasons for our doctrine must be explained, so that people understand that our faith
is "credible and reasonable".
The CTIS is an important development for the Church in Singapore. The local Catholic community actually consists of more than 200 thousand Catholics, representing approximately 5 % of the population (Buddhism is the most popular with 43 %, followed by Christianity with 18%, 15% Islam, Hinduism and Taoism 11:05 %). Bishop Goh does not hide what he calls a strange "anomaly", in short despite a generally high level of education among the citizens, including Catholics, when it comes to theology and doctrine of the Church there is a widespread attitude of "distrust".
For this reason, the prelate warned, it is important that those who occupy public offices and positions of responsibility, or are involved in education "are guided by Church teaching" to ensure an "orthodox" and not "personal" or reshaped transmission of the faith and of Christian doctrine.
The institute is a "milestone" for the Church in Singapore, said the rector Fr. James Yeo, according to whom, it is first of all at the service of the community of the city - state and, secondly, even if the possibility remains to be verified, "the surrounding nations". At present there are at least 130 requests for registration for the course in theology, the school has so far received applications from 105 students, most of whom already boast a "high-level" and specialized education. The lessons began on January 27 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration.
Paul Chua, an expert in Information Technology, is among the new theological students of the institute. He says that it is "a golden opportunity" and is excited about beginning lessons. He hopes to "better understand the God who loves him". A student named Hannah Lim can not wait to "grow in the Lord" and hopes to bring "others to Christ".
Smaller than New York and without natural resources, the city-state's 2010 gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 285 billion Singapore dollars (about US$ 231 billion), up 14.5 per cent, the highest in all of Asia. However, wealth is not equally distributed and the city-state's economic prosperity has accentuated the disparity among citizens. Singapore's Gini coefficient - a measure of income distribution inequality - now stands at 0.48 (it was 0.444 in 2000). The Gini coefficient ranges between zero (perfect equality) and one (perfect inequality).