Singapore Archbishop Stresses Importance of Catholic Schools

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SINGAPORE, MARCH 18, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Fides).- Catholic schools in Singapore have to strike a delicate balance in teaching the Gospel in a secular state, says Archbishop Nicholas Chia.



During a recent assembly of the diocesan Catholic Education Council, which comprises religious, lay teachers, and headmasters, the archbishop added: "Your task is not easy. You depend on two distinct authorities, church and state."

"You share the responsibility of the archbishop with regard to human instruction and education in the faith of all our children," he said.

The archbishop pointed out that in a secular state the method used by Catholics to spread the Gospel and its values -- love, brotherhood, peace, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, mutual respect -- is to propose rather than impose.

"Catholic schools must strive to include these values in scholastic formation," he stressed. "Religious, civic and moral education must be in keeping with the mission of the Church."

Underlining that Catholic schools are open to all children whatever their religion, the archbishop noted that according to the Code of Canon Law "the duty of all Catholic schools in a diocese is to guarantee Catholic education to all the young people for which the diocese is responsible."

He called on the 4-year-old Catholic Education Council to "work to become an appropriate body to operate in my name striving to develop coherent collaboration to help our schools face the challenges posed by modern culture and society."

In Singapore the Church runs 10 kindergartens, 20 primary schools and 15 secondary schools. There are 160,000 Catholics in a population of 4 million.