Singapore archbishop apologizes for remarks made after gay rights' rally

(Photo: Courtesy Catholic News Singapore)Singapore Archbishop William Goh speaking at a conference held at the Catholic Junior College on June 21, 2014.

The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore has apologized for insensitivity in a statement he made in June after a gay rights rally in the Southeast Asian city State.

In a pastoral letter published on the archdiocese's official news website, Singapore Archbishop William Goh clarified on July 3 that he did not intend to offend anyone when he reiterated the Church position on same-sex relationships.

"I apologize if my initial statement conveyed insensitivity as from your feedback I have come to realize that there is much variation in thought and lifestyle within this community.

"I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your pain and frustration," Goh said.

He noted, "The Church does not disapprove of a loving relationship between same-sex individuals that is chaste and faithful but [does not approve of] a sexual relationship between same-sex individuals as it is not in accordance with the divine plan of God."

The archbishop said he asked two Catholic organizations in Singapore - the Catholic Medical Guild and the Family Life Commission - to form a pastoral group to guide people with same-sex orientation to "journey together in faith, in support of one another, so as to live out God's call to chastity."

Goh also expounded on his June statement where he said the lifestyle of some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people was "detrimental to society." He had said such a lifestyle "is not helpful to integral human development and contrary to Christian views."

He said however that as a member of the Universal Catholic Church, "I am not at liberty to change the truth as revealed in sacred scripture and that which is taught by the Magisterium of the Church, with regards to sexual relationships between those of the opposite sex, same gender, or any other issues e.g. divorce, contraception, abortion etc."

He expressed concern on same-sex parents adopting children, saying that young people are exposed to similar problems such as "identity crisis as to their sexuality and orientation, and their confusion as to how they should relate to people of different sexes."

Goh noted, "Same-sex union, which evolves into the adoption and formation of children in an environment where a partner of the other gender is not represented, is contrary to the natural laws of God, and would ultimately be destructive to society and detrimental to the world and future generations."

The archbishop explained "This is what I was referring to in my initial statement when I used the terms 'detriment' and 'destructive,'....They do not refer to the individual but the consequences of such a union on society and future."

Goh's remarks drew criticism from the LGBT sector, particularly from gay Catholics. Civil activist Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha said the archbishop's statement ran counter with the official Vatican line.

The archbishop said he acknowledged the "hurt, anger and disappointment that the Church, like the rest of society, seemed to ostracize you and showed inconsistency in her preaching of compassion, by not approving of your freedom to love."

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