Vatican minister visits S'pore

Left: Cardinal Parolin (centre) viewing the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew during a tour of the Botanic Gardens yesterday. Accompanying him were Singapore's Ambassador to the Holy See Barry Desker (far left), NParks chief executive Kenneth Er (second from left)
Cardinal Parolin (centre) viewing the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew during a tour of the Botanic Gardens yesterday. Accompanying him were Singapore's Ambassador to the Holy See Barry Desker (far left), NParks chief executive Kenneth Er (second from left), National Orchid Garden nursery manager David Lim (second from right), and NParks chairman Christina Ong (right).PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
Left: Cardinal Parolin (centre) viewing the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew during a tour of the Botanic Gardens yesterday. Accompanying him were Singapore's Ambassador to the Holy See Barry Desker (far left), NParks chief executive Kenneth Er (second from left)
The Cardinal also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana, where he conveyed his heartfelt condolences and the sympathies of Pope Francis to PM Lee on the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Secretary of State of Holy See meets top leaders, reaffirms warm bilateral ties

The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday during his visit to Singapore.

At the two meetings at the Istana, the leaders reaffirmed the warm and friendly ties between the Holy See and Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement. Cardinal Parolin also conveyed his good wishes and those of Pope Francis to the people of Singapore on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the nation's independence, it added.

President Tan and Cardinal Parolin discussed the importance of inter-faith dialogue, and welcomed more cultural exchanges between the Holy See and Singapore.

Cardinal Parolin conveyed his heartfelt condolences and the sympathies of Pope Francis to PM Lee on founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death, MFA said. During his meeting with the Cardinal, PM Lee underscored the many contributions of the Catholic Church and community to Singapore.

Cardinal Parolin was hosted to lunch by Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, during which they exchanged views on developments in the region, the importance of maintaining inter-religious harmony, and countering religious radicalism.

Earlier in the day, the Cardinal was given a tour of the Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first World Heritage Site. He was accompanied by Singapore's Ambassador to the Holy See Barry Desker, National Parks Board (NParks) chairman Christina Ong, NParks chief executive Kenneth Er and others.

He visited the Gardens' display of orchids, including the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew. The golden yellow orchid with a green tinge was named after Mr Lee following his death in March.

Last night, he attended a dinner hosted by the Apostolic Nunciature of Singapore in his honour. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Hawazi Daipi, attended the dinner as a representative of the Government.

Cardinal Parolin, who arrived on Saturday, was in Singapore as part of a tour of countries in the region.

His trip is the first official visit by the Holy See's Secretary of State to Singapore, and marks the importance that the Holy See attaches to its relations with Singapore since diplomatic ties were established in June 1981, the Apostolic Nunciature in Singapore said in a statement.

During his stay, the Cardinal visited various Catholic institutions, including St Patrick's Secondary School, Mount Alvernia Hospital and Assisi Hospice. On Sunday, he presided at mass and delivered the homily at St Joseph's Church in Victoria Street, to mark the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Cardinal Parolin left for Rome last night.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2015, with the headline 'Vatican minister visits S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe