Catholic Archbishop expresses grave concerns about Madonna's concert this Sunday

Archbishop William Goh has expressed the Catholic Church's grave concerns about Madonna's concert on Feb 28, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Archbishop William Goh has expressed the Catholic Church's grave concerns about American singer Madonna's concert in Singapore on Sunday.

He reminded Catholics that it was their "moral obligation not to support those who denigrate and insult religions, including anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world".

"There is no neutrality in faith; one is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in itself is a counter witness. Obedience to God and His commandments must come before the arts," he said in a statement issued by his office on Saturday.

Madonna's Rebel Heart tour, which has a R18 rating here, has been altered slightly for the Singapore audience, with religiously-sensitive content removed.

In his criticism of Madonna, 57, Archbishop Goh told Catholics that "as the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic Arts that lead us to God... and not support the 'pseudo arts' that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography, contamination of the mind of the young, abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths."

The statement, put online at the websites of the Catholic News publication and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, described Madonna's music and props as blasphemous and disrespectful to the Catholic and Christian faith.

Archbishop Goh had told various government ministries and statutory boards the "Catholic Church's grave concerns" about the concert, to be held at the Sports Hub.

"(In) multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore, we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one's religion, especially in these times of heightened religious sensitivities, particularly among active practitioners of religions," he said.

The authorities have assured the Archbishop, both in writing and orally, that "restrictions have been placed to ensure that religiously-offensive content that breaches local guidelines will not be allowed on stage'', said the statement.

Last month, the Media Development Authority said Madonna's concert license will not allow any content that offends any race or religion, like the song Holy Water.

Many Christians, especially online, supported the Archbishop. Public relations executive Victor Yen, 35, told The Straits Times: "What Madonna is doing is a direct provocation of our faith. I personally would not attend her concert."

Some Christian fans, however, said they would go as they had been waiting a long time to watch a Madonna concert.

Executive Kevin Kwok, 30, a Catholic, said he is attending the show with his parents and fiancee. "I think this will be her first and last performance in Singapore."

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