Don’t be a bystander
August 22, 2019
Shake off the yoke
August 22, 2019

Archbishop sees opportunities for development and transformation

By Kaelanne Jordan
Twitter: @kaelanne1

Archbishop Jason Gordon has said that he did not expect the prayers from the 40-day Rosary for Life to “boomerang” to him. He believes faithful are praying “over his head” as a number of initiatives are now emerging that he did not see coming.

“I can’t just step away from it,” the Archbishop frankly told Catholic Media Services Limited’s (CAMSEL) Digital Media Manager Tracy Chimming-Lewis during the Ask the Archbishop live chat last Wednesday.

One of these initiatives, he shared, originated from a meeting with mediators at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), San Fernando. The goal, he said, is to have mediation centres in every vicariate to dissuade escalation of disputes.

Archbishop Gordon mentioned that Prime Minister Keith Rowley has been encouraging him on a project that Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris had put forward during his tenure: the Lengua Institute for first-time offenders. The Archbishop said that he has been “so busy” with education that thinking about another project has been really difficult.

“…because I running out of bandwidth…and that project requires significant bandwidth because first-time offenders are young males badly socialised [and] in need of a particular care and attention to re-socialise them and this is the whole developmental project—to get them checking in to growing in all areas of their lives, to stand on their own two feet and earn a living, and be a decent citizen of the country,” he explained.

Nevertheless, the Archbishop asserted that this project, which has “dropped” again in his lap for the third time will go forward.

The third project speaks specifically to the Sea Lots community. He shared that for the past three years, the Eternal Light Community has been doing a lot of work in the community, building trust and helping to rebuild the homes destroyed by fire in November 2018.

Plans are afoot to open a “space” for formation, training, religious services and for the Catholic Church to become a more established presence in the area.

Performance of COP Griffith

Archbishop Gordon was asked to share his thoughts on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s performance as he marked his first year in office this month. He replied that it is “crazy” to think a runaway train could be turned around in five minutes. “…I think that’s the wrong approach,” he said.

The right approach, according to the Archbishop, is to question “‘Is he [Griffith] doing the right things? Is he taking the right approach? Is he taking the right advice? Are we using the best technology knowledge that we have available internationally to bear on this’?”.

Continuing the discourse, Archbishop Gordon maintained that the crime problem is due to a number of things including the problem of drugs and a drug economy, a corruption economy, a culture of disrespect and a real problem of underdevelopment (See Page 24).

“And I think that’s really where the bogeyman is,” he said, adding that “we have to change this” through strategic developmental interventions in communities where people are underdeveloped and do not have access to education, technology, innovation and learning—things, he believes that would make productive citizens participating in the economy and life of T&T.

Shifting to Church affairs, Archbishop Gordon hoped that the three-day visit to Trinidad by Bishop Jaime Villarroel Rodriguez of Carupano, Venezuela, will build relations between both countries and provide an opportunity for pastoral care.

He also mentioned that he is considering having some Venezuelan priests visit from time to time to help the Archdiocese find better pastoral care for Venezuelans.

As T&T celebrates 57 years of independence next week Saturday, the Archbishop of Port of Spain observed that amidst the country’s beauty and creativity are two inhibitors to its growth: indiscipline and disrespect.

He believed if citizens would apply discipline and respect as part of their DNA, then we would have a different and “incredible” culture, country and people.