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New Apostolic Administrator for Bridgetown

While COVID-19 has delayed the ordination of Barbados-born Bishop-elect Neil Scantlebury as the new Bishop of the diocese of Bridgetown, the way is now clear for him to officially begin work while he waits. The Rome-based Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples appointed Bishop-elect Scantlebury as the Apostolic Administrator of the Bridgetown diocese, with effect from March 1, according to a release issued that day from the Bishop’s House.

The release said that to make way for this to happen, Archbishop Jason Gordon resigned as Apostolic Administrator, a post he had held for more than three years as the Church awaited the appointment of a new bishop.

“The Papal envoy or Apostolic Nuncio to the Antilles, His Excellency Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, made the official announcement to the Roman Catholic clergy, members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and Chancery staff at a briefing held via Zoom at midday today [March 1],” the release said.

Archbishop Nwachukwu said: “I happily give you my congratulations and best wishes for a fruitful ministry as Apostolic Administrator of Bridgetown…”

The release explained that an Apostolic Administrator has most of the rights and duties of a diocesan bishop, with the exceptions outlined in Church or Canon Law. In general, the Apostolic Administrator temporarily maintains the necessary day-to-day functioning of the Diocese, without introducing major changes.

According to the release, it is envisaged that Bishop-elect Scantlebury, 55, will continue as Apostolic Administrator until he is ordained and assumes his originally intended role as Bishop of Bridgetown. In responding to this latest development, Bishop-elect said with his ordination postponed, he very much appreciated the thoughtfulness of the appointment.

He added that he was looking forward to now meeting the people of the Diocese and listening to what they had to say. Plans for his March 17 ordination were postponed due to the uncertain COVID-19 situation in Barbados and elsewhere, and a new date has not yet been set.

Archbishop Gordon was Bishop of Bridgetown from 2011 until 2017 when he was appointed Archbishop of Port of Spain and Apostolic Administrator of Bridgetown. The Nuncio thanked Archbishop Gordon for his faithful service to the Diocese of Bridgetown, while Bishop-elect Scantlebury expressed gratitude for the guidance he received from the Archbishop and for making his transition much easier.

In his turn, Archbishop Gordon said it had been a privilege to serve the Church and the people of Barbados—his first assignment as a bishop, and expressed his appreciation for the care and support he received over the years.

In a letter to laity, the outgoing Apostolic Administrator asked laity to please continue to pray for the Bishop-elect and new Apostolic Administrator “as he puts his hand to the plough in the Diocese of Bridgetown. Let us join him to continue to build the Kingdom of God in Barbados”.