The Catholic faithful of Singapore expressed “delight” as they welcomed the appointment of their own Archbishop William Goh to the College of Cardinals.
The prelate becomes the third Church leader, after Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur and Cardinal Cornelius Sim of Brunei, from the small bishops’ conference Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei (CBCMSB) to be named to the Church hierarchy.
Archbishop Goh, 65, becomes the first archbishop-head from Singapore to be named a cardinal by Pope Francis and the third from the CBCMSB.
“This appointment calls for him to serve not just the archdiocese of Singapore; he will be expected to assist the Holy Father in the task of governing the Universal Church,” read a statement from the Archdiocese of Singapore.
“Cardinal-elect William Goh asks for your prayers so that he can assume this responsibility with humility, wisdom and holiness,” it added.
“It is not only an honor for the city-Church but also for the state of Singapore and the conference,” read a statement from the CBCMSB.
Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang, president of the conference, offered his “felicitations and fraternal support from all the bishops and Churches in the region.”
“The gesture of Pope Francis is seen as affirming the vision for the Church to be present to all the extremities of the world,” read the statement.
“Archbishop William will be able to carry the voices of the people from the region to the universal church,” said Bishop Francis, adding that the prelate will in turn “bring the concerns and affections of the Holy Father and the universal church to all the people of God here.”
Archbishop Goh, was born in 1957 and is the fourth archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore.
He attended Montfort Secondary, where he received his high school diploma and entered the seminary in 1979 and began his studies in Philosophy at the Major Seminary at Penang, and Theology at the Major Seminary of Singapore.
On May 1, 1985, he was ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Singapore and was later named Assistant Parish Priest in the Church of the Holy Cross from 1985-1989.
He went on to complete his Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome in 1992.
Upon his return, he was appointed formator and lecturer at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary from 1992-2005. In 2005, he was made rector and spiritual director of the Catholic Spirituality Centre until he took office as archbishop.
The College of Cardinals currently has 208 Cardinals, including 117 electors and 91 non-electors. With Pope Francis’ announcement, the number will grow to 229 Cardinals, of whom 131 will be electors, on August 27.
Of the 21 new Cardinals, eight are from Europe, six from Asia, two from Africa, one from North America, and four from Central and Latin America.