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Striving for excellence

In Ministry, Communications, Family Life. By Kaelanne Jordan,

Archbishop Jason Gordon has admitted that the Church has not employed “good enough” screening mechanisms to detect paedophiles entering the priesthood. He revealed that this past month, three local priests attended a workshop in the US which taught the characteristics to look for when screening applicants for the priesthood and religious life, thus ensuring that only candidates with the “highest ideals” are accepted for ministry.

The archbishop was responding to a question from CAMSEL’s Digital Media Manager, Tracy Chimming-Lewis during the Ask the Archbishop live chat on Facebook last Wednesday on the issue of sexual crimes still plaguing the global Church.

He said many people have the erroneous notion that celibacy causes paedophilia. “…paedophiles look for a place where they can have access to children, the Church is such a place. That’s where the problem is.”

Commenting further, he said paedophilia was previously seen as a “moral problem”.

“Then more recently, we realised this is not a moral problem so you cannot give someone absolution and send them back now that they’ve had conversion. This is a psychological problem and one that needs serious medical help. The person is a sick person.” Pope Francis has declared “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

On the local front, the archbishop addressed the backlash from the press conference hosted by religious representatives in June to defend the institution of marriage as between a biological man and woman.

Chimming-Lewis posed the question, “How do you respond to comments that heterosexuals have already ruined the concept of marriage through divorce, infidelity, as well as the idea of family?”

Archbishop Gordon responded that it could be said human beings have ruined the concept of humanity just by being broken and flawed human beings. “So does that mean that we should stop the notion of humanity? Does that mean we should stop being humans?” he asked.

In another analogy, the archbishop noted domestic violence and absentee fathers could be said to have ruined the idea of masculinity. “So what, we walk away from the concept of manhood?” he questioned. Archbishop Gordon reminded that although human beings are flawed they ought always to strive for excellence.

A Facebook viewer asked the archbishop of any plans to inculcate Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ as the 2018 hurricane season has begun. Archbishop Gordon said some work has been ongoing within little pockets of the archdiocese but he urged citizens to play a larger role in understanding and caring for the environment and ensuring that the earth passed on to the next generation is healthier.

He suggested this could be done through “simple things” like using LED bulbs and being mindful of water usage. “Little things that can make a ripple impact,” he said.

Archbishop Gordon announced the archdiocese will be hosting a campaign to coincide with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of the Creation observance on September 1.

Another project currently ongoing is the Integrated Pastoral Communications Plan (IPCP) in an effort to bridge the gap between non-digital and digital natives in the Church (see page 5).

The intention is to encourage different people to be involved in the interdisciplinary connection of the mission of the Church in a collaborative fashion: “There was a time when each Church department was running on their own steam doing what they do. The problem with that is that each department was overheating the demographic.  It would be better if all the groups work together and have a single plan.”

The archbishop then highlighted the importance of the Caribbean School for Catholic Communications, a resource that provides the opportunity for integrating technology for faith formation. This year’s school runs from August 5 to 11 at Emmaus Centre, Arima.

“And so, you will learn how to think with the Church. You will learn about the spirituality and theology of communication, how to use these tools more effectively and how to build stories out of digital tools,” he said.