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Singapore archbishop apologizes after Catholic jailed for sex abuse

Archbishop William Goh regretted the incident breeding a cloud of suspicion over those who have given their lives for service

Singapore archbishop apologizes after Catholic jailed for sex abuse

Archbishop William Goh performs the Rite of Dedication at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd's 120th anniversary in Singapore in February 2017. (Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Published: May 06, 2022 03:40 AM GMT

Updated: May 06, 2022 07:44 AM GMT

Archbishop William Goh of Singapore apologized on May 5 on behalf of the Church soon after a senior Catholic figure in the local Church was jailed for five years for sex crimes against two teenage boys.

“Like many of you, I am dismayed, shocked, and ashamed. Some of us are confused as to what actually took place and how this could have happened,” Archbishop Goh said in a statement issued on the archdiocesan website.

The Singaporean man in his 60s cannot be named because of court gag orders, which also prohibit publishing his designation, appointment and the school with which he was linked to.

The convict is a member of a Catholic religious order, had taken a vow of celibacy and has never married, local media reported quoting court documents.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge of committing an indecent act with a young person.

“It is with great sadness and regret that we have learned of the case involving a member of our Church who has committed sexual crimes against young people,” the archbishop’s statement said.

As the leader of the Catholic community in Singapore, he apologized and offered “heartfelt sympathy to those who have suffered on account of this crime.”

“The cold reality of having an incident like this on our shores is sobering,” he said adding that many “good church leaders have sacrificed much to remain faithful to the gospel and have worked hard to instill the values of our Catholic faith in the young.”

“A cloud of suspicion now hangs over those who have given themselves to live a life of service,” said the archbishop.

The archdiocese established Professional Standards Office (PSO) in 2011 to protect the interests of our vulnerable and regularly reviews its protocols to provide a safe environment, said the statement.

The office is made up of professionals comprising Senior lawyers, former district Judges, psychologists and people in senior management, some of them non-Catholics. It operates independently of the hierarchy in line with the laws of the Church and of Singapore.

A layperson was appointed to head the office in 2018 in order to enhance the impartiality of the office, Archbishop Goh said.

He also sought prayers of the community to strengthen the mission in the city-state “so that we emerge a safer, credible, stronger and more compassionate Church.”

The Catholic leader wanted the incident to become “a wake-up call for us all to take our spiritual life seriously and be awakened from a complacent faith. Conversion is required of the entire Church.”

“We must remember that the sins of one will affect others as well. It is a timely reminder for us to renew our faith, find healing in forgiveness and in God’s mercy, and seek reconciliation with our wounded brothers and sisters by taking the call to conversion of life seriously,” the archbishop said.

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