Catholic Church hails George Yeo's Vatican role

Former foreign minister George Yeo, now vice-chairman of the Kerry Group, in his office on the 31st floor of the Kerry Centre in Hong Kong. The Catholic Church in Singapore has hailed the appointment of former foreign minister George Yeo to a special
Former foreign minister George Yeo, now vice-chairman of the Kerry Group, in his office on the 31st floor of the Kerry Centre in Hong Kong. The Catholic Church in Singapore has hailed the appointment of former foreign minister George Yeo to a special Vatican commission set up by Pope Francis I. -- ST FILE PHOTO: LI XUEYING

The Catholic Church in Singapore has hailed the appointment of former foreign minister George Yeo to a special Vatican commission set up by Pope Francis I.

Archbishop William Goh said the Church will give him all the support it can as Mr Yeo, the only Asian member in the eight-member committee, carries out his responsibilities for the Vatican.

The move is part of an effort by Pope Francis to clean up the scandal-hit institution he inherited from his predecessor Benedict XVI.

"We are pleased that Mr Yeo has accepted this heavy responsibility and we have every confidence that he will make invaluable contributions to the Church through his work in this commission and do us proud," said Archbishop Goh.

When contacted by The Sunday Times, Mr Yeo declined to be interviewed and would only say that it is a "heavy responsibility".

Archbishop Goh said that Mr Yeo is the best man for the job because of his experience and exposure to various economic, administrative and political challenges, both locally and internationally.

The commission members - also from Spain, Germany, France, Malta and Italy - are experts in fields such as economics, finance and law.

Archbishop Goh said Mr Yeo's knowledge in corporate governance and financial affairs, among other fields, will "value-add significantly to the commission's deliberations".

"(These qualities) are what we believe the Vatican will need in this task of reforming the Church's administrative and economic structures," he added.

The Pope has tasked the commission to overhaul the structure of the Vatican after the Church struggled with a series of issues. These include the sexual abuse of children by priests, alleged corruption and infighting in the central administration, and conflict over the running of the Vatican's bank.

The committee, which includes seven lay members and one cleric, will have the right to examine any paper and digital document in the Vatican.

Archbishop Goh also praised Mr Yeo for being "exemplary" in the way he lives out his faith. "He is a man of devout faith and has been very supportive of the Church, rendering services generously and in a quiet, unassuming way," he added.

When news of Mr Yeo's appointment broke on Friday, many people posted congratulatory messages on his Facebook page, including Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who said:"They couldn't have found a better man for this sensitive and difficult task. We are all proud of George Yeo."