Pope meets Singapore president: Church and State collaboration good

President Tony Tan Keng was received in the Vatican this morning. He also met Secretary of State Card Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Mgr Paul Richard Gallagher. The Church is appreciated in the country, "especially in the educational and social fields".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met Singapore President Tony Tan Keng this morning, the first time a pontiff welcomes a head of state from the small Asian nation.

In a statement, the Vatican Press Office said, “During the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and Singapore were evoked, as well as the collaboration between the Church and the State, especially in the educational and social fields.

“Attention then turned to various current international themes and issues linked to the regional political situation, with particular reference to the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue for the promotion of human rights, stability, justice and peace in south-east Asia.”

After the meeting with the Holy Father, President Tony Tan met with the Secretary of State Card Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States Mgr Paul Richard Gallagher.

Card Parolin visited Singapore last August, to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Archbishop of Singapore Mgr William Goh welcomed President Tan’s visit to Italy (which began on 22 May) and the Vatican.

The prelate highlighted the good relations between Singapore and the Church. “Singapore’s government is secular, but not secularised since it acknowledges the important role played by religion in the moral development of people,” he said.