Dear Hindu Friends,
I greet you with much joy and fraternal closeness as you celebrate Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, which commemorates the triumph of light over darkness, or good over evil. May your time spent with family, relatives and friends be filled with abundant peace, grateful hearts and overflowing love. We are grateful too for the peace and harmony in our beloved nation, which we should not take for granted.
The pervading conflicts, injustice, violence, terrorism and war around the world today are troubling. Sadly, this is due to the overwhelming disregard for the sanctity of human life. All these have resulted in a global sense of living in an era of uncertainty and fragile peace.
For us Christians and Hindus, and indeed many other religions, “Compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life” (cf. Letter of Pope Francis for the International Meeting “Paths of Peace” held in Münster and Osnabrück, Germany, 10-12 September 2017). To live out our religious beliefs more authentically, it is necessary that we be strong advocates of peace and love for all peoples regardless of race, language or religion. “For this to happen,” Pope Francis says, “the first step is to feel the pain or others, neither overlooking them nor becoming inured to it by them. We must never be indifferent to evil.”
Vatican II’s declaration on The Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, says, “We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as He is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: ‘He who does not love does not know God’ (1 John 4:8)”.
Thus, we must reaffirm and recommit ourselves to promoting lasting justice and peace through meaningful dialogue and creative efforts to build deeper and more inclusive interreligious harmony within our nation and beyond our nations.
With God’s almighty help, let us live in greater hope and instil within our communities a deeper consciousness of the need to be one with our brothers and sisters at all times and in all situations. United, we can then be a potent force to overcome the evils of darkness and destruction in this world.
On this festive occasion, I would like to sincerely wish all of you a very Happy Deepavali. Saal Mubarak!
Most Rev William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
Msgr Philip Heng, SJ