Archbishop apologises for "insensitivity" in earlier statement on LGBT issues

SINGAPORE - The head of the Catholic Church here has apologised for a statement he made in June on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues, but maintained the Church's stance on LGBT sexual relationships.

Archbishop William Goh had said then that a family unit comprises a father, mother and children; and that LGBT sexual relationships are "not in accordance with the plan of God". But in an open letter to his congregation posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website on Thursday, the Archbishop said he apologised if his earlier statement had "conveyed insensitivity".

Stressing that he was "not indifferent" to the pain and frustration felt by Catholics with same-sex orientations, Archbishop Goh said some Catholics have reacted negatively to his June 21 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 wrote.

He added that same-sex unions have negative implications on the family and society, such as how children of these partnerships develop identity crises. "This is what I was referring to in my initial statement when I used the terms 'detriment' and 'destructive'. They do not refer to the individual but the consequences of such a union on society and future."

Clarifying that only sexual relationships between same-sex individuals was not in accordance with the divine plan of God, he said the Church does not disapprove of loving relationships between same-sex individuals that is "chaste and faithful".

He said: "Same-sex inclination in itself is not a sin but as love often seeks to express itself physically, the challenge to be chaste and faithful to the divine plan of God is ever present."

As with other issues including divorce, contraception and abortion, Archbishop Goh said he was simply restating what was in the scriptures. He said while many same-sex oriented individuals believed that their inclination was natural, which entitled them to express their affections physically, "whether same-sex orientation is due to nature or nurture is something that science has not proven conclusively".