President Tony Tan and PM Lee send valedictory letters to Pope

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have sent valedictory letters to the outgoing Pope Benedict XVI, who is stepping down today.

The president said that people all over the world, including many in Singapore, will remember the Pope's "tremendous contributions" to the Catholic community.

"You devoted your life to shepherding Catholics around the world, and championing the causes of peace and development. Through your teachings, you have reinforced the Catholic faith and provided a beacon of inspiration and hope in the face of challenges from the modern world," he said.

PM Lee said that the warm ties between Singapore and the Holy See, which is the Catholic Church's jurisdiction in Rome, have strengthened under the Pope's leadership.

He added that the Pope's decision to appoint an Apostolic Nuncio, an envoy for the Vatican, to Singapore in 2010 marked a significant milestone in our bilateral relations and signalled the Holy See's "desire to deepen its engagement with Singapore and South-east Asia"

He said the pope has "worked tirelessly" to extend the Catholic Church's outreach using traditional and new media.

"You dealt with the challenges during your tenure with leadership and resolve. Your decision to step down from the Apostolic Seat is an example of humility and grace," said PM Lee.

"I am sure that your love for the Church will continue to be a source of inspiration to the world."