PM Lee hails Archbishop Goh's Cardinal role as significant for Catholics in Singapore

Archbishop William Goh said he was caught
Archbishop William Goh, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, will be the first from Singapore to hold the position of Cardinal. (SCREENCAP: Archbishop William Goh/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Archbishop William Goh on Wednesday (1 June) said he was caught "off-guard" and completely "unprepared" by Sunday's announcement by the Vatican that he will be appointed a Cardinal, making him the first from Singapore to hold the position.

"As it is, I am already so overwhelmed by my responsibilities as bishop for the local church that I have never thought of any other appointments, certainly not to the College of Cardinals," wrote the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore in a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page.

"I would be happy just to finish the task of building our archdiocese, a vibrant, evangelising, and missionary church; and then retire to a simple, quiet and contemplative life," added the 64-year-old.

Pope Francis had on Sunday said that he will create 21 new Cardinals at a Consistory on 27 August. The Cardinals represent the Church worldwide, and reflect “a wide variety of cultures, contexts and pastoral ministries”.

With his new role, Cardinal-elect Goh and his fellow Cardinals are the second most senior in the ranks of the Roman Catholic clergy after Pope Francis.

He said that the honour of being appointed by Pope Francis was "an endorsement of the archdiocese's vision". "A greater responsibility is now placed on me beyond the narrow confines of the archdiocese," Archbishop Goh added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday congratulated Archbishop Goh on his appointment, calling it "especially significant to our Catholic community" which marked their bicentennial last year.

He noted that the Cardinal-elect actively worked with fellow religious leaders to promote religious harmony and support the progress of Singapore, since taking office in 2013.

"I am confident that he will continue to bring his wisdom and humility to his new responsibilities. I wish him every success in his new appointment, and look forward to him making a greater contribution to the church and to the broader community, in Singapore and beyond," added Lee in his Facebook post.

The College of Cardinals currently has 208 Cardinals, including 117 electors and 91 non-electors. With Pope Francis’ announcement, the number will grow to 229 Cardinals, of whom 131 will be electors, on 27 August.

Of the 21 new Cardinals, eight are from Europe, six from Asia, two from Africa, one from North America, and four from Central and Latin America.

The 4th Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, Archbishop Goh began his theological studies in Philosophy at the Major Seminary at Penang (College General), and Theology at the Major Seminary of Singapore.

In 1985, Archbishop Goh was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Singapore. He was Assistant Parish Priest in the Church of the Holy Cross from 1985 to 1989. He then went on to undertake his Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1992.

Archbishop Goh was formerly Formator, Lecturer, and Rector at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary Spiritual Director of the Catholic Spirituality Centre. He took office as Archbishop on 18 May 2013.

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at