Catholic Church defines family unit in weekend mass

Archbishop's statement aims to clear the air among its believers on gay issues, urges compassion and respect

THE Catholic Church, in response to what it describes as confusion among the faithful about what comprises a family unit, has issued a statement addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

The statement by Archbishop William Goh was read out during mass at the 30 Catholic churches in Singapore over the weekend.

"The LGBT movement is gaining momentum. Some of you are confused and are asking what the Church's position is with regard to the family," he said in the statement, which was also posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website.

In it, Archbishop Goh maintained that the family unit comprises a father, mother and children; and that LGBT sexual relationships are "not in accordance with the plan of God".

But he also said the Church recognises that there are individuals who are attracted to people of the same sex.

"Regardless of their sexual orientation... (they are) worthy of love and respect," he said, adding that discrimination of any kind should not be condoned.

Instead, he asked Catholics to exercise compassion, acceptance, understanding and mutual respect.

Catholic Jileen Tan, 50, said she agreed fully with the message.

The personal assistant, who heard the Archbishop's message at the Church of the Holy Cross in Clementi yesterday morning, said: "We need to exercise empathy and compassion towards those living LGBT lifestyles, but it cannot mean we condone their way of life."

The Catholic Church is the latest religious organisation to join others who have spoken up on the issue.

Various religious groups have weighed in following a Wear White campaign launched by an Islamic religious teacher to protest against homosexuality during next week's Pink Dot event. His effort was supported by the LoveSingapore network of churches, which has said it would ask congregants to wear white on June 28 and 29.

Last Friday, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) sent a memo to mosque staff advising them against being confrontational or vilifying those who lead the LGBT lifestyle, or who attend the June 28 Pink Dot event, organised in support of the LGBT community.

Last Saturday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim had also urged Singaporeans to be big-hearted and to accommodate differences in opinions and choices, to avoid dividing society.

Speaking at the launch of Ramadan celebrations at the Ahmad Ibrahim Mosque in Sembawang yesterday, he stressed that Islam was inclusive and all-embracing.

"The mosque is a neutral religious platform, it is there to serve the Muslim community of all shades. If you are there to fulfil your religious obligations, the mosque will be there for you," he said.

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