By Kaelanne Jordan
Archbishop Jason Gordon has said that violence against a spouse is something that the Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) could never stand by idly and look at.
He said that in addressing the ongoing issue of domestic violence, the AEC Bishops issued a pastoral letter on Domestic Violence in 2015.
The Archbishop told Catholic Media Services Limited’s (CAMSEL) Digital Media Manager Tracy Chimming-Lewis that no-one is called to stay in a relationship where there is any form of violence. The AEC Bishops state that domestic violence is a sin against the dignity of the human person. It is also grounds for annulment, the Archbishop said.
“In fact, you should not stay. You should get out and get out quickly. You can even question whether there was ever a marriage in the first place,” Archbishop Gordon said in the Ask the Archbishop live chat on Wednesday, January 29.
He acknowledged while domestic violence is a two-way street—as there are women who are violent to men—the Church and by extension society ought to do a lot more for men.
“Because clearly the levels of anger men are holding…that is not healthy,” he said.
Commenting on the public perceptions that there’s an evil in the country in light of the increase of domestic violence incidents, the Archbishop saw that it was not hard to arrive at that conclusion. He said that persons’ lifestyle and lifestyle choices are “overtaking us”.
The problem, he observed, is that persons want everyone else to “fix” it yet want to continue their own lifestyle.
“And that’s the problem. Everyone has to change lifestyle and change course if we’re going to fix this wonderful, beautiful twin island. We all have a part to play in it,” the Archbishop asserted.
‘Play yuhself’ for Carnival?
With Carnival a few weeks away, Archbishop Gordon commented while there are different parts of Carnival—the music and mas—he recognised there’s an “incredible creativity” that is evident.
“And that creativity in the whole society brings to the fore something that is best about us in Trinidad and Tobago. I think we can compete with anybody in the world for creativity because we do incredible stuff with very little,” he said.
And then there’s the other part of Carnival.
The Archbishop shared he developed a theory that Carnival Monday and Tuesday is to our society what a dream is to the individual.
“So Carl Jung would say that the dream is a symbolic factory that speaks to your unconscious and everything in the dream is really a part of you. And anything you dream is really something about you that is trying to communicate back to you.”
Carnival, he believed, is really a representation and projection of us playing itself on stage: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Of the latter, Archbishop Gordon said he observed persons who want to push society to hedonism. Hedonism, he said, is not about “violating” a decent code. It is about having no decent code.
He gave the example of one Carnival when he saw banners ‘Play Yuh self’ and he “nearly died” because he could not believe what he was seeing.
“And I thought of Peter Minshall [be]cause Peter said the mas is a sacred thing. And you put on the mas, you step into the costume and into character and you play the mas. Now when you stop playing the mas and you start playing yourself, we have a problem,” he said.
Archbishop Gordon affirmed that the real life in Carnival is when we play ourselves and the rest of the year, we “cover up” from corruption, indecency, immorality and so much of our ordinary life.
Ultimately, Carnival, Archbishop Gordon believes is only “betraying” the truth that is true on the other days of the year.
Of the question on whether it is hypocritical for Catholic schools to throw school fetes, Archbishop Gordon said ‘No’. What is hypocritical, he said, is if the institution throws any kind of event where the value system in the event does not display a Catholic value system.