ASIA/SINGAPORE - Catholics prepare for Pope Francis' visit with faith and hope

Friday, 3 May 2024 pope francis   faith  

Singapore (Agenzia Fides) - The presence of Pope Francis in Singapore - according to the announced program of the papal visit from September 11 to 13 - will be above all an experience of faith. It will be a moment "lived in the hope of reaffirming and revitalizing the faith among Singapore's Catholics," explains the Archbishop of Singapore, Cardinal William Goh. In a message to the Catholic community, the cardinal called on the faithful to pray together continually for the Pope's visit. “Let us pray as a community for the health and safety of the Holy Father; "Let us ask the Lord to grant us a truly meaningful and gracious visit," he wrote, hoping that the Pope's presence in Asia will bring "a renewal and strengthening of faith, a conversion of heart and a missionary spirit in the Catholic communities of Singapore". The Cardinal emphasizes: "It has been 38 years since the Vicar of Christ visited Singapore, when Pope John Paul II honored us with a visit on November 20, 1986. I hope that this visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, will bring new vigor to all Catholics in Singapore and unite them in faith and mission, especially in these difficult times." In order to give the faithful the opportunity to prepare spiritually for the encounter with Jesus through the visit of Pope Francis, the Archdiocese of Singapore recently launched the website, dedicated to the papal visit. The platform offers prayers, current information about the visit program and background information. The highlight of Pope Francis' visit is expected to be a Eucharistic celebration on September 12, 2024. The website also presents the theme chosen by the Archdiocese: "Unity, Hope and the Cross", illustrated by a logo that brings together these key elements of the faith with the colors yellow (the color of the Vatican flag) and red, the color of the flag of Singapore. "We pray that Pope Francis' visit to Singapore will unite our hearts and rekindle our faith in Jesus Christ, the Good News for the world," it said. The visit takes place ten years after the adoption of the pastoral plan drawn up by the Catholic Church in Singapore in 2014: At that time, Archbishop Goh emphasized in a gathering of around 750 representatives of parishes and church institutions that the church was faced with challenges such as the decline in religious practice, the indifference towards the sacred, the power of new technologies and the secularization of society. Today, around "half of all Catholics go to church regularly for Sunday mass,” and thanks to migrants, the churches are still full. Singapore's Catholic population, currently numbering approximately 395,000 people, is made up of people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In Singapore, liturgical celebrations are conducted primarily in English, but liturgies are also offered in Mandarin, Tamil and other Southeast Asian languages. In all churches in Singapore, the special prayer intention that will accompany the Pope's trip until September is heard in the Eucharistic celebrations: "For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and for the universal Church, may the apostolic visit to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore inspire us to bring the joy of the Gospel to all peoples, to renew and strengthen our faith, to convert hearts, to promote unity and to bring hope to humanity". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2024)