Friday, 29 June 2012


"This is the new form of idolatry and even slavery, the worship of one's self, of one's physical attributes, the worship of one's intellectual attributes, the worship of one's material possessions, the worship of power and the worship of pleasures at any costs.

"Today, we live in a world where every minute of our lives is only for our own self-indulgence and self-aggrandisement. We seem to have become only selfish and self-centred, forgetting that there is something more to life than what is here and now. We even bring up our children to this way of self-indulgence and self-adulation."

Those were the words from the Archbishop of Accra, The Most Rev Charles Palmer-Buckle as he preached the homily on Sunday 24th July 2012 to thousands of Catholics gathered in the National Arena to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in Jamaica. The Jamaica Gleaner has a great article on the event dated Friday June 29th 2012 written by writen by Peter Espeut.

It was a good homily and a good day - a good way to celebrate 50 years of Independence, and 500 years of Christianity in Jamaica.

In a public lecture at the Institute of Jamaica the following day, under the auspices of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, the archbishop revealed that the Catholic Church was growing exponentially in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.

He advised that when he became a bishop, there were nine dioceses in Ghana; now there are 19, and one Apostolic Vicariate. There are several hundred Ghanaian young men currently in training as priests in his country, and he promised to send some to Jamaica to help out with our shortage.

He explained the dramatic increase in numbers in terms of the church's evangelisation strategy, using large numbers of well-trained catechists to spread the word and to teach in the outlying villages. The church has been successful in making the Word of God incarnate in African culture by Christianising traditional African rites of birth, circumcision and puberty. Catholic worship was fully African, with drumming, dancing and singing, as well as prayer and meditation. Archbishop Palmer-Buckle explained that they have moved to the next step, which is to Africanise their theology - not new in its essential content but new in its expression.

Africa has had dozens of Catholic political leaders, including Kwame Nkrumah, John Evans Atta Mills (the present president of Ghana), and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. In fact, Nyerere was a deeply devout man, whose cause for sainthood is being actively pursued in Rome.

Did you know that Marcus Garvey was a Catholic?

Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to


The Jamaica Gleaner of May 25th 2012 has a great article about the Catholic Church in Jamaica, written by By Peter Espeut. Enjoy!


On June 27, 1512, King Ferdinand of Spain asked the Franciscans in Santo Domingo to send missionaries to Jamaica to evangelise the Tainos (Arawak Indians). Later that year, 10 Franciscan friars arrived to take up residence.


This year, we celebrate the quincentenary of the coming of the Christian Church to Jamaica, along with the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence from Great Britain. Both milestones are bittersweet, for history has its moments of glory, and its moments of 'dip and fall back'.


The project to evangelise the Tainos failed miserably; the imperial conquistadores were more interested in exploiting the labour of the Tainos than saving their souls, and by the time the English conquered Jamaica, none were to be found alive.


In the 143 years the Catholic Church had exclusive tenure here, it thrived among the Spanish and Jamaica-born colonists. Santiago de la Vega (today's Spanish Town) was a Catholic city, with a collegiate church presided over by an abbot, a hospital (St John the Divine), a Dominican monastery (named after St Dominic), a Franciscan monastery (San Diego), and two hermitages (Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara).


In Europe, the Christian Church was in turmoil. In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Saxony; and in 1534, King Henry VIII declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and the Anglican Church was born. While the reformers protested against the Catholic Church, others dissented against the Protestants; King Charles I was beheaded, and in 1653, the Puritan Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, which ended the monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England.


Cromwell launched an attack upon Spanish possessions in the Caribbean to weaken Catholic influence in Europe and in the New World. The capture of Jamaica unleashed Puritan fury against local Catholic chapels, which were burnt and pillaged.


Later, when William of Orange ascended the throne of England, the Catholic Church was banned in England and in her colonies, and no Catholic could hold public office in the English empire.


When Kingston was laid out around 1700, the major streets were named after Protestant champions: King Street and Orange Street after King William III of Orange; (East and West) Queen Street after his wife, Queen Mary; and Duke Street was named after Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, whose birth seemed to cement the Protestant succession.


Despite being banned, the Catholic Church survived underground both in England and in Jamaica; the stories of secret chapels and priests hidden in cellars makes exciting reading.


In 1791, the British Parliament passed an act reversing the anti-Catholic penal laws in force since 1558 - the beginning of the emancipation of Catholics in Britain and the British colonies. Catholics could no longer be required to take the Oath of Supremacy, and could now be openly educated in their faith, and attend Mass publicly.


In 1791, Spanish Catholics resident in Jamaica asked the government to allow a priest to come to Jamaica to minister to their spiritual needs. At the same time in 1791, slaves in what today is called Haiti rose up in a successful rebellion against their masters. Almost immediately there was an exodus of French planters and their families - almost exclusively Catholics - to Kingston; some brought their loyal slaves with them. The Catholic church officially returned to Jamaica in 1792 when the first Catholic priest was sent to Jamaica from London; other priests came as refugees from Haiti. In 1808, Kingston had a population of 30,000, half of whom were slaves; 2,350 (7.8 per cent) were Catholics, comprising 1,450 slaves and 900 whites (600 French and 300 other whites).


The Catholic Church in Jamaica in 1808 was numerically a black church, but was dominated by expatriate whites, who did not seek to evangelise the thousands of black slaves in Jamaica, or the English and Scottish whites. Preoccupied with surviving in a foreign and hostile culture, the Catholic Church turned in on itself, and remains quite small in Jamaica today.


Numerically, the Jamaican Catholic Church is still a black church. Globally, the Catholic Church is growing fastest in Africa. To mark our 500th anniversary, on June 24, 2012, Catholics from all across Jamaica will gather at the National Arena to listen to the Most Rev Gabriel Charles Palmer Buckle, Archbishop of Accra, Ghana, speak of the church's phenomenal attraction to Africans. Many Jamaicans can trace their heritage to Ghana, and Archbishop Palmer Buckle's message should be quite timely as we look backward at the last 500 years, and forward into the new millennium.

Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to

Monday, 25 June 2012

Former government minister blames the Catholics for being fired

Mrs Verna St Rose blames the Catholics for her being fired from the position of Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development. She was, after all, "piloting the controversial draft gender policy which addresses issues of abortion and gay rights".

Well first off Mrs St Rose Greaves, I am sorry that you feel that way. Many religious leaders protested that policy not just the Catholics. Sure we raised our voice, but maybe you are not aware, there are only about 60,000 active Catholics who go to church on a regular basis. The population of this country is 1.3 million.

As it turns out, the POPULATION did not agree with the policy as expressed through the groups that made their voices heard.

Lastly (on this matter) we Catholics are all about proper treatment of homosexuals - love the sinner, hate the sin.

There are other issues that might have been responsible for you being removed from your ministry. How could you overlook the major fallout and media frenzy after one of your staff was forcibly removed from the office and sent to the St Anns asylum, with your full knowledge. Even if that woman needed to be hospitalized, the government looked like the big bad guy. That was your ministry, on your watch. Perhaps the Prime Minister thought that you did not handle the situation well.

What I am trying to say is... we catholics are not your enemy. We never were.

God bless you in your new endeavors.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Catholic Social Justice makes issue with the Trinidad and Tobago National Gender Policy

Media Release from: Msgr Robert Llanos, Vicar General of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad and The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) on Wed 20 June, 2012

The Catholic Church would welcome a Gender Policy that recognises the sanctity of all life from conception until natural death and the dignity of the human person; a policy that seeks to build the common good. We welcome a policy that will address gender issues relating to e.g. poverty and social exclusion, crime and violence, incest, housing, the breakdown of family life, education, elder abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, drug/substance abuse, health care, unemployment/underemployment, environmental degradation, economic injustice and so on. We make a special plea to our Government to excise from the draft Gender policy that is expected to be taken to Cabinet for consideration shortly, any definitions or clauses that seek to:
- redefine the term 'gender';
- legalise abortion; or
- open the door to allow same-sex unions.

Gender: The Catholic Church rejects any attempt to re-define 'gender' which, as the Holy See stated at a UN meeting in March 2011, "asserts that sexual identity can somehow be adapted indefinitely to suit new and different purposes, not recognized in international law. The Holy See rightly stressed that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court contains the only binding definition of gender. This Statute states that "the term 'gender' refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term 'gender' does not indicate any meaning different from the aforementioned definition." We join with the Holy See to warn that "this agenda to re-define 'gender', in turn, calls into question the very foundation of the human rights system."

Homosexuality: The Church views homosexual acts as being "contrary to the natural law...Homosexual persons are called to chastity" (Catechism 2357, 2358). Those with this sexual orientation "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

God imprinted a moral order in the hearts and minds of humankind and it is this order that should influence how we live our lives. We therefore reject any policies that are not consistent with the nature of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). We are mindful of the words of Blessed John Paul II who stated that: “The natural law is itself the eternal law, implanted in beings endowed with reason, and inclining them towards their right action and end…”

The Catholic Bishops of our region have said: "The Church has always made a clear distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. Sexual orientation is morally indifferent while homosexual behaviour is immoral, objectively speaking. Homosexual acts are contrary to the creative plan of God about the complementarity of the sexes or to the openness to life intrinsic to sexual relations within marriage. While the Church is obliged to preach the truth, it is also obliged by the love of Christ to provide quality pastoral care to persons who have a homosexual orientation and who may be struggling with homosexual behaviour."

Same-sex marriage: The Catholic Church believes that "marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love." Pope Benedict XVI has warned, of "powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage." We are prepared to defend traditional marriage" from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature".

Abortion: We reject any attempts to legalise abortion in TT. We believe that "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation (Catechism 2270, 2273). We agree with Mother Teresa that “Abortion has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience.”

We stand by our Church’s teaching that “we cannot endorse choices that drastically and unjustly limit the choices of other human beings.” We stand as the voice of our vulnerable, voiceless unborn and call for others to open centres such as Mary Care Centre which was established since 1980 as a sanctuary for unmarried, pregnant, young women.

As we strive to move from a culture of death to a culture of life in TT, we must reject the violence of abortion and devise effective strategies to enable our pregnant mothers to have their babies and to care for them. Let us respond to the real needs of our people and demonstrate our love for both mother and baby. We can promote women’s health and well-being by developing positive alternatives to abortion.

In his encyclical, God is Love, Pope Benedict XVI reminds Catholics that the Church "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice." We reject moral relativism which denies moral absolutes and calls on citizens who believe that moral truth is objective and not relative to the whims and fancies of the individual, to join us.

Our response to all the threats to life is a moral test for our nation. We renew our resolve to defend and promote life in every phase as a blessing and a precious gift from God, never to be sacrificed, never to be compromised. At a time in our history when many are seeking to push religion off the public stage into the private realm, we urge all those who support our stance to stand together in solidarity. Join us in our March for Jesus on Sunday 1 July as we pray for our nation. Let us make our voices heard as we seek to build a strong nation based on morals and values that will take our beloved country forward.

For further information contact Msgr Robert Llanos, Vicar General of the
Catholic Church, on 628 6553 or Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ on 299 8945

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Is Bridget Brereton a Catholic Hater?

In the June 21st 2012 Trinidad Express there is an articel by Bridget Brereton entitled "Endless Holidays". Ms Brereton in an ex professor of caribbean history at the University of the West Indies. Her article has me angry.

Ms Brereton has put forward the opinion previously, and has argued specifically, that the Corpus Christi Holiday should be done away with. In the article of June
21st, she again notes that we should do away with the Corpus Christi Holiday. WHY Ms Brereton? WHY Corpus Christi?

From my viewpoint I cannot help but think of you as a Catholic Hater.

Surely we could do away with Easter Monday. Surely we can do away with Boxing day. Why would you choose Corpus Christi? Perhaps you are afraid to identify those days. Maybe you think that Trinis may never accept giving up those days, after all, we NEED long weekends. Maybe you are afraid the population may deem you mad.

Surely you should realise that Corpus Christi is the ONLY Specifically CATHOLIC holiday in Trinidad. While Easter and Christmas are Christian Holidays, there are many other Christian denominations that celebrate those days... including the Shouter Baptists.

If we (Catholics), who number more than Shouter Baptists should have to do away with Corpus Christi, then Shouter baptist Liberation day should be done away with. I understand that it is not a religious day for them however, I am discussing numbers.

You yourself noted that Whit Monday was previously done away with. As a historian you should know that the former Catholic Archbishop Anthony Pantin agreed to give up the day after much debate and issue among the church.

You remind me of the English Historian Edward Gibbon. His difinitive work on the Roman Empire is accepted as a great work however, his hate for organised religion and specifically the (early) Catholic Church leaves a hole in his credibility to tell the tale without passion or prejudice... as a true historian should.

I hope one day to meet you, so that you could dispell my thought on you. Until then, I will pray that you are not a hater, and that if you are, that age will bring you reason.

Friday, 15 June 2012

He qualifies the called

When I look around at my fellow Christians I see so many of them saying or doing things that they should not. Although I may guide or suggest, it is not for me to condemn them. I do not know their relationship with God or what God has planned for them.We all fall short of the Glory of God because we are not perfect. Even the great people in the Bible had issues:

Jacob was a cheater;
Peter had a temper;
David had an affair;
Noah got drunk;
Jonah ran from God;
Paul was a murderer;
Gideon was insecure;
Miriam was a gossiper;
Martha was a worrier;
Thomas was a doubter;
Sara was impatient;
Elijah was moody;
Moses stuttered;
Zaccheus was short;
Abraham was old and
Lazarus was dead.

God does not called the Qualified,
instead he qualifies the called.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Archbishop Joe shows his testicular fortitude - Don't mess with us Catholics.

Archbishop Joe Harris of Port of Spain has shown that he is not to be trifled with. NO! he said. And he means no. I love the fact that he is a fighter. We need that. Catholics need to have a strong religious leader who is willing to take on any comers. And absolutely, he would have the backing of the Church. Of course there will always be people who would disagree with his tactics. I am not one of them. Hooray Your Grace. You Rock.

All this comes out of a problem with the catholic primary school in the “Carenage” area. The school has been deemed by the (government) Education Ministry engineers as unsafe and so was shut down in late May. The students, teachers and principal were sent to the government Primary school.

The interesting thing is that the government primary school can hold a maximum of 240 students. The Catholic school had 124 and government school had 110. This totals 234 students. That means all the children can be accommodated. With this in mind the Minister of Education boldly states that he was not using government funds to build a new school when all the children can be accommodated in this school. I agree of course….. however, anyone would agree when put in such simple terms. The truth is that the situation is not simple.

Parents are up in arms. They don’t want to send their children to the government school. They chose to send their children to the Catholic school to get a better secular education and a good catholic education. They think that the standard of education in the government school is lower. I don’t know if it is. According to the Newsday newspaper of June 13 2012 The good Minister had the following to say:

I’ve taken note of what your MP Dr Rowley has said about spending the past 20 years looking for suitable land. So until such time as the (Catholic Education) Board can indicate to the Ministry of Education that it has found land for us to build you a new school, we will consider this move a permanent solution,”

“Can I take taxpayers’ money to build another school, at 50 percent or less occupation, when the Pt Cumana Government Primary School has the space to accommodate students from your (RC) school? Building a new RC primary school in Carenage is something we will have to consider for the future with the Catholic (Education) Board,”

“There must be integration of students and parents. As such, I have directed Acting Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan, and School Supervisor II for PoS and environs, Rose Bereaux, to come to the school compound this week and work with the principals and staff to ensure no more separation of students,” Gopeesingh stated.

He added that the Ministry of Education would “allocate which teacher teaches which class. We cannot have RC teachers teaching only RC students.”

The situation makes sense to me. But My Archbishop has other ideas. And damnit, I agree with him. Let us find another solution. He had this to say:

“The choice of Catholic Education is a right of members of the Catholic Church and in accordance with the legal obligations of the State, the Minister of Education we are advised, has no constitutional power to determine whether a Catholic primary school is to exist or not.”

“As a result of this development, we intend to move our teachers and children to another location with immediate effect until this situation is resolved. Please be advised that we are exploring our legal options in this matter.”

I’m with you Your Grace! Keep on Rocking in the Free World.

Monday, 11 June 2012


The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper of June 10th 2012 has a very strong headline. A suprise to me really. I have copied part of the articel referred to in the headline. It was written by Cherisse Moe:

Port of Spain (Trinidad) Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris is calling on citizens to resist moves to accept homosexuality. He is the latest religious leader to speak out against what he described as society’s increasing acceptance of same-sex relationships. His comments come in the wake of the government’s new national gender policy, which promises to promote fairness and equality among citizens.

“We are copycats in T&T. We look at the US and what they do and want to do it too. But one of the things nobody thinks about is structure and the importance of it,” Archbishop Harris said. “If we facilitate sinful structures, which are against God’s law, we are teaching our young people that it’s okay to lead a sinful life. We must turn back to God.”

Harris was speaking yesterday during an interview with the T&T Guardian, at a family day hosted by the Catholic Archdiocese of T&T at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. On Friday, several faith- and community-based groups opposed to the national gender policy held a press conference to address the issue. The religious groups believe the proposed gender policy seeks to redefine the term gender and will pave the way to legalise same-sex relationships and abortion.

Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose-Greaves has voiced her support for gay rights and abortion. Harris said while he is not against homosexuals, he is against the act, which he described as sinful. “Our church teaches you to love the sinner but hate the sin. The world has progressed in all sorts of ways. Men have gone to the moon. But now people have begun to think that we can do without God. That is the problem, we cannot do without God.”

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Corpus Christi -Trinidad Images 2012

Thousands celebrated Mass with the Archbishop and Nuncio:

After Mass we set out in our groups. Below the Canopy carriers await the Eucharist and the flower girls who would drop petals along the road before the Eucharist in Canopy:

Several Groups posed so that I took Photos of their banners. Below is the Banner for the Legion of Mary:

Here is a group from the beautiful church of St Theresa's in Barataria.

A Beautiful Banner for the Assumption Parish.

And so the Procession Began. I was at the Head and regret not taking photos of the Canopy as it arrived for Benediction (it was in the back). However, I did not go to take photos. I went to give God praise in the Eucharist. Here is the Cross bearer:

Another wonderful thing at the head of the procession was the Flag Bearer. While there were individuals who carried the Vatican Flag and the Trinidad and Tobago Flag, this guy carried both National Flags.

Holy Name Convent and Fatima College raised their flags high:

Again the house flags of Fatima College:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

John Voight on Obama and Obamacare

Its an old recording. But still very valid