Pope Francis's "unwavering" outreach and "a strong heart for the last, the lost, and the least" in each community are valuable learning points for Singapore's society, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
On his Facebook post, Tong said that he was honoured to have been granted a "baciamano" (a brief audience) with Pope Francis on the same day.Tong described Pope Francis as "warm, humble, and personable".
"He had a kind word or gesture for everyone, and made it a point to warmly welcome everyone in the Singapore delegation," he added.
He and Pope Francis also chatted briefly about social cohesion, multi-religiosity and harmony.
Tong said that these are issues that both have a "deep mutual interest".
The Singapore delegation, including Singapore's Non-Resident Ambassador to the Holy See, Janet Ang, attended the first General Papal Audience of the new year.
According to Tong, Singapore will continue meetings at the Vatican as the country continues to work on fostering closer ties with the Holy See.
Pope's teachings transcend the Catholic faith: Tong
Tong added that Pope Francis's teachings on universal love, reconciliation, peace and solidarity, are profoundly explored in his third Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.
An Encyclical is an official letter written by the Pope and sent to all Roman Catholic bishops.
The letter usually contains statements about the official teachings of the Church.
"Fratelli Tutti aims to promote a universal aspiration toward fraternity and social friendship," Tong said.
He added that the document concluded that time has come to "dream, then, as a single human family".
Tong noted that these teachings resonate strongly with a multicultural and religiously diverse Singapore, and transcend the Catholic faith or any single faith alone.
"They have a true universal, timeless relevance," he said.
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Top images via Edwin Tong/Facebook