“When I was fifteen, I came into unfortunate contact with a priest who would engage me in play wrestling and attempt to touch my crotch in the process,” activist and former member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Dr Vincent Wijeyshingha, said in a Facebook post on Monday.
“He once brought me to his bedroom and took a stack of pornographic magazines from his wardrobe to show me,” he added, without naming the priest.
Dr Wijeysingha’s online note was in response to a statement by the Catholic Archbishop, William Goh, over the weekend, in which he described the “lifestyle” of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people as “detrimental to society”.
The Archbishop also said such a “lifestyle” was “not helpful to integral human development and contrary to Christian values.” (See here.)
“I see no grounds in Archbishop William Goh’s pronouncement on homosexuality for anything but contempt,” Dr Wijeysingha, 44, said.
He then launched into a tirade against the Catholic Church, accusing it of the “systematic rape and abuse of children committed to the care of a clergy ostensibly vowed to celibacy.”
He described this as a “global phenomenon” and that “the local church in Singapore is not exempt.”
Dr Wijeysingha then made the disclosure that a priest had attempted to molest him when he was 15-years old.
“I haven’t till now disclosed this sorry incident publicly,” he said. “It never seemed momentous and so far as I’m aware, it didn’t damage me. But Archbishop William Goh’s pronouncements this weekend prompted me to. The Catholic Church long ago surrendered its right to participate in the moral debate and Goh’s statement must be put in this proper context.”
According to news reports following Dr Wijeysingha’s note, the Catholic Church responded and said the “Church’s stand on sexuality should not be distorted.”
“The intent of our message is to clarify to the Catholic faithful its position with regard to the family from the perspective of faith in Christ and His Church, and not to engage in a debate on the issue of LGBT purely on the level of reason, because faith while not opposed to reason, transcends reason,” the church said.
The Facebook note by Dr Wijeysingha, who revealed publicly last year that he is gay, is the latest in the ongoing tussle between various groups on the issue of homosexuality.
The past week has seen a call, termed the “Wear White” campaign, by some Muslim teachers to followers to express opposition to homosexuality by wearing white this weekend when they attend evening prayers at the mosques.
This was then followed by an expression of support from the Christian Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC), led by senior pastor Lawrence Khong, who condemned the annual Pink Dot event as being “unashamedly public and loud“, and that this “gay agenda” was a threat to the family unit.
The Catholic Church issued its statement on the subject shortly after.
Deputy Prime Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim; and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) have all called for restraint in the debate.
The gay community will be celebrating its annual “freedom to love” event, known as Pink Dot, this Saturday.
The organisers, reacting to the opposition to the Pink Dot event by various religious groups, said in a statement to the media that they were saddened that “certain quarters have reacted negatively to our efforts at creating a more loving and embracing society”.
A spokesperson for the organisers said, “We call on all parties to exercise restraint and engage each other in dialogue…Pink Dot also welcomes the opportunity to meet with any and all parties who wish to engage with us in thoughtful and constructive discussion.”
He added, “It was never Pink Dot’s intention to create rifts within society. Our stance has always been about supporting the freedom to love, encouraging and promoting values of inclusivity and diversity.”