Catholic Archbishop apologises for insensitivity in statement on LGBT issue
SINGAPORE — The head of the Catholic Church yesterday apologised for any insensitivity conveyed in his public statement last month on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issue, noting the strong reaction to the Church’s official position on the family.
In a letter published on the Catholic Church’s website and addressed to “Catholics with same-sex orientation”, Archbishop William Goh said: “The Church does not disapprove of a loving relationship between same-sex individuals that is chaste and faithful but (of) a sexual relationship between same-sex individuals as it is not in accordance with the divine plan of God.”
He added that he has tasked the Catholic Medical Guild and the Family Life Commission to set up a pastoral group — which is currently being formed — for those with same-sex orientation to “journey together in faith, in support of one another, so as to live out God’s call to chastity”.
But he reiterated that same-sex union where a gay couple adopt children and bring them up in “an environment where a partner of the other gender is not represented ... would ultimately be destructive to society and detrimental to the world and future generations”.
On June 21, the church’s website ran a message by Archbishop Goh in which he reiterated the Church’s view that the basic building block of society is the family, comprising a father, mother and children. He also said the LGBT lifestyle was “detrimental to society, is not helpful to integral human development and contrary to Christian views”.
A few days later, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, a civil activist, criticised the statement, saying it was entirely at odds with the teachings of the church government at the Vatican.
In his latest message, Archbishop Goh did not refer to Dr Wijeysingha’s comments, but noted that a number of gay Catholics have reacted strongly to his earlier statement.
“You have expressed hurt, anger and disappointment that the Church, like the rest of society, seemed to ostracise you and showed inconsistency in her preaching of compassion, by not approving of your freedom to love,” he said.
He added: “I apologise if my initial statement conveyed insensitivity, as from your feedback, I have come to realise 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, as I see many Catholics with same-sex orientation for spiritual support, counselling and healing.”
Nevertheless, Archbishop Goh stressed that he was “not at liberty” to change the universal church’s stance on same-sex unions. He added that as Bishop of the local church, his primary responsibility is to follow the teachings of the Universal Church, which states that same-sex unions contradict the natural laws of God.