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Gonsalves responds to letter from Roman Catholic clergy

Gonsalves responds to letter from Roman Catholic clergy

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Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace is questioning the authority of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves to speak on things to do with theology, as if he were a bishop.

Eustace, during a press conference on Wednesday, {{more}} was giving his opinion on the response of the Prime Minister to a letter that was written by Bishop Charles Jason Gordon, in which the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in St Vincent and the Grenadines expressed their “deep concern on certain matters affecting their church and society.”

The letter from the clergy also highlighted the issue of the three teachers who were not reinstated after contesting in the 2010 general elections on a New Democratic Party (NDP) ticket and the unresolved matter concerning businessman Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel.

“When I listened to the Prime Minister’s reply, which I heard last night (Tuesday)…he had a lot of comments of a theological nature and so on. I don’t know whether he is a bishop too,” Eustace said.

The president of the New Democratic Party said that he had no problem with the bishop’s letter, particularly since it is important to deal with such issues for the benefit of everyone in society.

He added that under the Grand Beach Accord, the clergy were free to comment on such matters.

“Under the Grand Beach Accord, the Christian Council, the clergy have an obligation to speak on those issues …which is affecting society and what can be more important than us being a unified body,” he said.

“I’m not going to get into any theological debate. To me the matter is very clear.”

Making reference to one of the suggestions made in Gonsalves’ letter of reply, Eustace stated that, unlike Gonsalves, he would not suggest to the bishop that he hold a meeting.

As he spoke about his reply to the bishop on Tuesday, Gonsalves revealed that he had written the letter, not in his capacity as Prime Minister, but rather as a member of the Roman Catholic community in St Vincent, to whom the original letter from the bishop was addressed.

“I’m very pleased that after the retreat, a letter had come out from the church and I want to read what I said and you will see from the tone of the letter and everything that this is a conversation between a Roman Catholic who is 68 years of age, who happens to be the Prime Minister and his bishop,” Gonsalves said.

In the eight-page document, the Prime Minister addressed in depth the issue of the three teachers who were not reinstated following the 2010 general elections, as well as the situation surrounding Bigger Biggs.

 

Additionally, he expressed disappointment that the bishop’s letter did not address issues that he considered to be vital. Included in these issues were the misuse and abuse of drugs, the disrespect of God and his people with respect to “an unruly minority of NDP supporters on July 19, 2014, and the attempt by the NDP leadership afterwards to justify the unjustifiable,” the recent declaration by the NDP not to cooperate with the Government, the harshness meted out to many workers in the private sector and the unacceptable level of poverty in St Vincent and the Grenadines. (BK)

(See the full text of Gonsalves’ letter on the Readers’ Opinions page.)

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