[UPDATE on 25 June, Wednesday, at 12:20am: Adding response from Catholic Church]
The Catholic Church on Tuesday night responded to a Facebook note condemning it for speaking out against homosexuality, reiterating its stance of non-discrimination but also disagreement with homosexual relationships.
In a statement shared with the media on Tuesday night, the Singapore Archdiocese Communications Office said the church's stand on homosexuality "should not be distorted".
"The intent of our message is to clarify with the Catholic faithful its position with regard to the family from the perspective of faith in Christ and His church, and not to engage in debate on the issue of LGBT purely on the level of reason, because faith while opposed to reason, transcends reason," the church added.
Further, noting that its position remains "consistent" with previous pronouncements on the issue, the statement said, "whilst every individual, regardless of his imperfections, is to be treated with love, compassion and respect, we do not condone any act that is contrary to God's commandments as taught in scripture and by the teaching authority of the church".
On Monday night, social work lecturer Vincent Wijeysingha condemned a letter addressed to Singapore catholics that was penned by Archbishop William Goh and read out to congregations over the weekend.
In a Facebook note published on Monday night, the 44-year-old, who publicly came out as a gay man last year, revealed that he had come into "unfortunate contact with a priest who would engage me in play wrestling and attempt to touch my crotch in the process”. This happened, he said, when he was 15.
Wijeysingha added, "He once brought me to his bedroom and took a stack of pornographic magazines from his wardrobe to show me.”
Masking real intent?
On Goh’s letter, Wijeysingha termed it a “cynical attempt to portray the church as a compassionate and empathetic organisation concerned for the souls of LGBT people”.
He accused the Catholic Church in Singapore as attempting to “come across as nice guys intent only upon the salvation of souls”, but masking the church’s “real revulsion towards LGBT people”.
In his open letter, published on 21 June, the archbishop had stated that the Catholic church regarded each individual, regardless of their sexual orientation as being a child of God, “and is therefore worthy of love and respect”, and that the church also discouraged discrimination of any kind.
However, the archbishop also upheld the Church’s stance in discouraging LGBT sexual relationships and lifestyles as they are “detrimental” to society and “not helpful” to human development and “contrary” to Christian values”. Goh then urged those who are struggling to integrate their faith and their sexual orientation to seek counselling and spiritual support.
The archbishop had mentioned setting up support groups “to assist those who are struggling with same sex attraction and their loved ones who have difficulty accepting them” in a previous open letter about LGBT issues, with regard to the Sexuality FAQ that had been posted on the Health Promotion Board (HPB) website earlier this year.
His latest letter is coming amid an ongoing controversy between the “Wear White” camp – those who support a campaign to wear white clothing during an evening Muslim prayer which will be held on the same day as an annual LGBT-rights rally – and supporters of the rally, known as Pink Dot.
Referring to the alleged episode with the priest, Wijeysingha said that the incident “never seemed momentous and so far as I’m aware, it didn’t damage me”.
When contacted, Wijeysingha indicated that he did not wish to provide further details on his Facebook post.