Thursday, 30 May 2013


The Corpus Christi Mass and Procession took place today, Thursday 30th May 2013. While there were processions carrying the body of Christ through  the streets, all over Trinidad, these images are from the Prot of Spain Procession. I did not take photos of the crowd this year.Instead I sought out banners. ... enjoy!









Protecting life from conception to natural death









dropping petals before the Monstrance



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Francis the exorcist

And why not? Truly Holy men has the ability to control spiritual forces, and Francis is a truly Holy man. Go get 'em Francis.

The following photo is from the associated Press:

 The question has bubbled up ever since Francis laid his hands on the head of a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, shook, then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.

In a statement Tuesday, the Vatican said Francis "didn't intend to perform any exorcism. But as he often does for the sick or suffering, he simply intended to pray for someone who was suffering who was presented to him."

In his very first homily as pope on March 14, Francis warned cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel the day after he was elected that "he who doesn't pray to the Lord prays to the devil."

He has since mentioned the devil on a handful of occasions, most recently in a May 4 homily when in his morning Mass in the Vatican hotel chapel he spoke of the need for dialogue — except with Satan. "With the prince of this world you can't have dialogue: Let this be clear!" he warned.

Experts said Francis' frequent invocation of the devil is a reflection both of his Jesuit spirituality and his Latin American roots, as well as a reflection of a Catholic Church weakened by secularization.

Italian newspapers noted that the late Pope John Paul II performed an exorcism in 1982 — near the same spot where Francis prayed over the young disabled man Sunday.

Monday, 20 May 2013

just a mum .... a poem for the hard working women

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk 's office, 
was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. 

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.   

"What I mean is, " explained the recorder,   
"do you have a job or are you just a ......?" 

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman. 

"I'm a Mum." 

"We don't list 'Mum' as an occupation,
'housewife' covers it," 
Said the recorder emphatically. 

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself
in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.   
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, 
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, 
"Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." 

"What is your occupation?" she probed. 

What made me say it?  I do not know.   

The words simply popped out.   
"I'm a Research Associate in the field of 
Child Development and Human Relations."
The clerk paused, ball- point pen frozen in midair and 
looked up as though she had not heard right.   

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. 
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, 
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest,
"just what you do in your field?"
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, 
I heard myself reply, 
"I have a continuing program of research, 
(what mother doesn't) 
In the laboratory and in the field, 
(normally I would have said indoors and out).   
I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) 
and already have four credits (all daughters).  
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, 
(any mother care to disagree?) 
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).   
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers
and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money." 

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she 
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door. 

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, 
I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.  
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, 
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, 
testing out a new vocal pattern.   

I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!  
And I had gone on the official records as someone more
distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mum." 

What a glorious career!   
Especially when there's a title on the door. 

Does this make grandmothers 
"Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" 
great grandmothers 
"Executive Senior Research Associates?"   
I think so!!!   

I also think it makes Aunts "
Associate Research Assistants." 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Trinidadian Catholic view from the Pew

Somehow I must have missed this article when it was published in the Catholic News. I can so relate to it. Actually, besides the church I belong to (Cathedral / Sacred Heart) there are three other churches that I attend mass at : Our Lady mother of Mercy (River Estate Diego Martin) Saint Finbar's (West Moorings Diego Martin), St Anthony's  (Petit Valley).

Having said this I wish to challenge the goodly author that she should meet the Altar servers and Choir at the Cathedral. Ours rock too.  It is a great article. Have a read:

Port of Spain Archdiocese weekly newspaper for Saturday, 27 April 2013 - 
View from the Pew Written by Christine Mahon
For some time now I have been meaning to have my observations about Church documented somewhere, so here goes.

I would like to confess that since marrying and leaving my family home in St Ann’s, I moved around for many years among all the many Catholic churches searching for a suitable place of worship:
  • the coolest building, 
  • the shortest homily, 
  • the nearest church, 
  • the uplifting service, 
  • the convenient time, 
  • the one with the good preacher 
– or I just basically “shuffled the deck” and picked a “card” so parishioners could not label me “the lady with those three disruptive children” – actually two well-behaved and one juvenile delinquent.

I, however, was somehow always drawn back to St Anthony’s Church, Petit Valley where I felt most at home. Coincidentally, this church actually qualified quite nicely as my parish since I lived just five minutes away. For some years after settling in St Anthony’s, I continued to “shuffle the pack” depending on the priest assigned to a particular Mass. Admit it, we all have our preferences. Until finally, with my children grown up and finding myself most often than not going to Mass alone, with nobody to complain or whine, I stuck primarily with the 9.15 a.m. Sunday service.

While what I share are entirely my feelings on the subject, some things cannot be denied. Firstly, the quality, harmony and commitment of the choir and their wonderful delivery of music and choice of hymns, which I dare challenge anyone to deny, is entirely uplifting. Secondly, the discipline of the altar servers is rare, particularly in this day and age. I have been to Mass over the last 30 years in several countries and churches and watched the somewhat decline in this area of the service. I can safely say that the demeanour, respect and obvious knowledge shown by the altar boys and girls assigned to St Anthony’s are to be admired. I have no idea if training is done parish by parish or by a school for acolytes, whatever the case I feel very proud of our youngsters and believe others would do well to be guided accordingly.

The introduction of the children’s Sunday school at this 9.15 a.m. Mass is also very moving. The kids are led off at the beginning of Mass and return to re-join the congregation at the Presentation of Gifts, displaying with pride and joy their artful depictions of the lesson of the day. The children always look happy and satisfied to have been a part of the proceedings and I extend kudos to the “aunties” who take on this mission every week.

At the risk of sounding like the granny that I am, I recall when I was a child that preparation for attending Mass meant being well-dressed, at least watered if not fed, and bathroom exercises completed. Apart from provisions for a baby, it boggles my mind the amount of snacks, drinks, toys, trips to the washroom, etc that have to take place to pacify children during the Mass. I beg to suggest that this would be a good place to start a lesson in discipline. Words (preferably whispered) like, “You will have to wait”, “Quiet, honey, yes, Mass is nearly over” and my favourite, “No”. Some of us do not relish being face to face with a corn curl smeared little face, never mind how adorable, as we kneel warily forward to pray. Yes, it is sometimes torturous taking children to Mass but they do settle eventually. If you are waiting for the “age of reason”, well….. I am still waiting. How else can children learn an expected behaviour without practice? Tip number one, sit as near to the altar as possible. As scary as this seems, the amount of action from this vantage point will do more to keep young children entertained than the boring backs of adults. If you feel your child’s behaviour is being too disruptive during Mass, feel free to step outside for a few minutes.

As for the adults, I have only one request to those who jabber before or at the most inappropriate times during the Mass with total disregard for the sanctity of the place or moment, especially those who make zero attempts to talk softly.

“PLEASE……Keep it down – people are actually trying to pray.”

I brought my toddler grandson to Mass for the first time some Sundays ago – itself, a semi-torturous affair. I will continue to bring him if necessary and persevere in my part to keep him accustomed to church and the benefits it will bring to his life.

Church needs believers with zeal, not couch-potato Catholics, pope says

So I was reading the news releases from Zenit - the vatican news agency, and I saw that the Pope says that we need Catholics with Zeal. 

The problem is that those with zeal have to find a priest that works with them (note I said work with them - not for them or they work for the priests). That is a huge challenge. The Jesus explosion was critized heavily in it's beginnings. It was even called a church within a church, but the arrogance and stubbornness of the leaders made it a success today.  is it that the church here in Trinidad does not have the mechanism for releasing zealous people on the the nation? 

I am a huge critic of the church because like father Clyde Harvey has said in the past discussion must be both ways. While he was referring to bishops (and the church in that diocese) working with the Vatican and even questioning their decisions, so it must be with the church faithful  being allowed to question the priests. 

Don't get me wrong. I have zeal, but many times I get a burst and then that dies. Still I am Catholic and will always be - Blessed be the Lord

Here is the release: 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church doesn't need couch-potato Catholics, it needs believers with "apostolic zeal," willing to preach the uncomfortable words of Christ, Pope Francis said. "And if we annoy people" with this zeal for Christ, then "blessed be the Lord," he said in his daily morning Mass homily May 16. The pope celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, for employees of Vatican Radio and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The pope concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal Peter Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso, respectively president and secretary of the justice and peace council. In his homily, the pope talked about the day's reading from the Acts of the Apostles. St Paul caused a near riot during his trial in Jerusalem when he addressed a group of men divided over the belief in the resurrection of the dead. "Paul is a nuisance" in his preaching, his work and his attitude, the pope said, "because he proclaims Jesus Christ."

Catholic church way too serious.

So lets start with a joke:
Two Jesuit novices both wanted a cigarette while they prayed. They decided to ask their superior for permission. The first asked but was told no. A little while later the other novice spotted his friend smoking and praying. "Why did the superior allow you to smoke and not me?" he asked. His friend replied, "Because you asked if you could smoke while you prayed, and I asked if I could pray while I smoked!"

So the Pope =says that when church is too serious, it loses its loving, tender side.... 

The Catholic Church needs to revive its loving and tender side, which gets lost when the church becomes too serious, Pope Francis said. The church has ended up with "deviations, sects and heresies when it got too serious, that is, when it took things here too seriously and it forgot about embracing and tenderness," he told representatives of Caritas Internationalis -- the umbrella organization of national Catholic charities around the world. The maternal, tender side of the church is a value "that the mother church cannot lose," he said. 

The pope made his comments during a 45-minute informal meeting with Caritas Internationalis' executive committee, its secretary-general, Michel Roy; and its president, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa. Regional presidents of the Vatican-based umbrella group presented summaries of the situation in their regions. Roy also presented the pope with a small basket of bread to symbolize the more than 1 billion people who go hungry in the world and to highlight a new campaign Caritas will launch this year to fight world hunger.

Pope francis says to pray to the holy spirit

"I would like to ask you a question: how many of you pray to the Holy Spirit every day? Probably few, but we must satisfy this desire of Jesus and pray every day to the Holy Spirit, so that he opens our heart towards Jesus."

- Pope Francis, General Audience, May 15, 2013

Moscow defies European Union, says no to gay pride march

 The battle lines were drawn and the fight went on but to date the city of Moscow seems to have won:
  • Moscow court upholds ban on ‘gay pride’ marches for next hundred years 
  • Despite threat of fine from eurocrats, Moscow government again prohibits ‘gay pride’ parade
  • Moscow Mayor Calls “Gay Pride” Parade “Satanic” 
  • Russian Jewish Leaders Join Orthodox in Supporting Moscow Mayor’s Ban on Gay Pride 
  • Patriarch Alexis II: Homosexuality a “Vicious Deviation From God-Given Human Nature”
  •  The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Moscow had violated Article 11 of the European Convention of Human rights, which protects the right of "peaceful assembly," and that its acts were discriminatory.
 Here is an article from Lifesitethat explains it all :

Lifesite - May 17 2013 -  Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

The Moscow city government has rejected an application for a homosexual march permit for the eighth year in a row, citing the need for “respect for morality” and patriotism, according to Russian media sources.

“According to Russian law, we must work clearly and consistently on maintaining morality, directed to the teaching of patriotism to the growing generation, and not toward unclear aspirations, not to mention taking the city’s central squares and streets for this,” said Aleksei Mayorov, head of Regional Security for the city of Moscow, according to Interfax.

If homosexual activists defy the law and attempt to march as they have in previous years, Mayorov warned that “a certain reaction will follow and the action will be thwarted,” according to RIA Novosti. “In our opinion there is no desire for such events in the city.”

Mayorov’s statements are reflective of public sentiment in Russia, where 87 percent say they are opposed to such “gay pride” events, according to a poll recently conducted by the Levada Public Opinion Center, which also found that 85 percent are also opposed to the creation of homosexual “marriage.”

Homosexual “pride” marches are often characterized by open debauchery that includes public nudity, simulated and real acts of sodomy, mockery of Christianity, and public drunkenness.

Moscow’s continuing refusal to capitulate to the international homosexual movement’s demands is in defiance of European Court of Human Rights, which has ordered the city to allow such demonstrations, as well as the chairman of the Council of Europe, who has denounced Moscow’s ban on “gay pride.”
Attempts by homosexuals to hold public demonstrations in Moscow and other cities have provoked outrage by religious leaders and ordinary Russian citizens, who often confront the marchers with force. Police have found it necessary to detain and arrest homosexuals who have defied local “pride” bans in recent years.

The Russian parliament is currently considering a nationwide ban on homosexual propaganda aimed at minors, a measure that has already been passed by a number of Russian cities.

In neighboring Georgia, priests and faithful of the Orthodox Church broke up a “gay pride” event this week. 

Jamaica says no to condoms in schools

Fire bun dem ! (jamaican slang for what should happen to wicked people - they should be cast into hell so that FIRE may BURN THEM)

Lifesite magazine may 17 2013 - Written by  Thaddeus Baklinski

Jamaican Minister of Education, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has given a resounding "No" to a proposal to have condoms freely distributed in schools.The suggestion was made by the chairman of the country's National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight.
Thwaites made it clear that Jamaican schools were not "romping shops" during the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate held at Gordon House in Kingston on May 15. This government, lead by this Prime Minister, lifts up to our children, the ideal of faithful love and marriage between a man and a woman, as the basis of a family, even as we insist on tolerance and love for those who are disposed towards homosexuality.”

"Let it be clear, we will not be grooming children towards same-sex unions, and we will not be distributing condoms in schools," Thwaites said. "Restraint must be taught by example and precept,” he stressed. “Sex education, yes; condoms no,”

The reference to homosexuality arose from a controversial section of the Education Ministry's "Health and Family Life Curriculum" that included graphic sexual content describing homosexual sexual activities.
It was pulled from schools last year after public outrage from parents and teachers. In response, Thwaites ordered a revision of the sex-ed program to make it “positive, value-laden and age-appropriate” after admitting that "at least two persons involved in the drafting of the [original] curriculum had a particular agenda and were able to embed it in the curriculum."

The Jamaican National Family Planning Board has been pushing for condoms in schools for many years.
Teachers and parents opposed the newest prophylactic proposal, as well. By distributing condoms in schools, "we are saying that it is fine for children to be having sex,” Esther Tyson, a teacher, wrote to the Jamaica Gleaner. “Being sexually active, however, means that you are ready to be a parent, since no contraceptive, especially the condom, is foolproof. How can we legalize children having sex when they cannot support themselves economically, nor are they mature enough to be parents?"

Both sides of the Jamaican political spectrum agreed the public school contraception program was ill-advised.

"School is not a dispensary for prophylactics; we distribute knowledge and information. The health sector can if they so choose to do; they have trained personnel to distribute condoms," Holness said.
"It is inappropriate, I believe, to the majority of Jamaicans and parents, too, to have the school become a dispensary," the Jamaica Labour Party leader said.

Thwaites, who is also a Roman Catholic deacon at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Gordon Town, St. Andrew, said that while the education system acknowledges that many children are initiated into sexual activity during their classroom years, he notes that "some of the mass media, the Carnival Culture, and confused family values are among forces which have weakened the truth that premature sex was the thief of true love."

He said that with the revised curriculum, guidance counselors and their counterparts in the schools and community health-care systems will “know what to do when a student is in danger of sexual abuse.”

‘Anyone who has more than two children is irresponsible,’ UK doctor tells young mom of two

REALLY ????? What hole did this hater come out of? Does his view reflect that of experts in the  economic, psychological, medical or social fields. NO! He's just someone who wishes his opinions were law.

Lifesite News - Fri May 17, 2013 - written by Hilary White

A young British mother has said she was lectured by a general practitioner (GP) who told her she had been “irresponsible” for bringing two children into the world, and that Britain should adopt a population control policy like China’s. Mother of two Charlotte Comer, 21, said that she went to see Dr. Justin Landen on Monday for a prescription for antibiotics to treat her tonsilitis, but came away in tears when he told her that Britain needs an official One Child policy.

She told the Exeter Express and Echo that he gave her the prescription and then launched into a tirade, saying that Britain is overpopulated. He later called to apologize but Comer has launched a complaint to the National Health Service and the Hill Barton Surgery in Exeter, Devon.
Comer, who is the mother of two small boys, said, “I was gobsmacked. I never cry, but as soon as I got out I just burst into tears. I was so angry.” She said that she told the doctor that she didn’t know why the conversation was relevant to her situation. He had asked her if she was planning on having more children. She replied that she was considering it, but not until she and her children’s father were married. “I started explaining that we both came from big families so we’d like more children – and then he said he didn’t think coming from big families justified having more children.

“He then started talking about how the country is overpopulated and anyone who has more than two children is irresponsible. He started going on about how this country should be like China where people are only allowed one child.”

Comer said that the doctor added that the government would not be giving out welfare benefits for much longer. “I told him my partner works 70 hours a week as a courier and I am on maternity leave, and we weren’t on benefits. I don’t think he knew what to say to that, so he asked me why we would want more children if my partner works 70 hours a week and doesn’t have enough time with his children already.
“He used that as a reason for us not to have more children,” Comer told the media.

The Express and Echo published a statement from the NHS that said, “Dr. Landen offered advice regarding ongoing contraception. There was no intention whatsoever to cause offence or distress and Dr. Landen apologises if this has upset his patient. “Dr. Landen’s priority as a GP is always to meet the health needs of his patients and at no point was this advice ill intended.”

catholic league shows again how american press is anti catholic

May 14, 2013 Bill Donohue comments on the way New Jersey newspapers and politicians are reacting to cases of clergy sexual abuse:

A priest gropes a teenager 12 years ago while wrestling and is told not to be around minors unless supervised. He breaks the agreement. Here’s how New Jersey newspapers and politicians responded.

Calling for the resignation of the priest’s boss, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, are the following: the Newark Star-Ledger, the Asbury Park Press, Sen. Joseph Vitale, Sen. Barbara Buono, Sen. Stephen Sweeney, and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. This wasn’t good enough for The Record: it called upon lawmakers to tax church property.

An Orthodox rabbi forces an 11-year-old boy to have sex, and over the course of two years he molests him in the woods, in a storage room, in his car, and in the basement of a synagogue. The boy’s father, a rabbi, brings this to the attention of a prominent rabbi in the Lakewood Orthodox community, seeking justice in a rabbinical court. Nothing is done. No cops are called. This goes on for two years. The boy is taken to a therapist, but she also refuses to notify the authorities. The boy’s father finally reports this to law enforcement, and for this he is punished by his community, loses his job, and is forced to move his family out of state. Yesterday, the raping rabbi pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the boy.

None of the newspapers or politicians who called for Archbishop Myers to resign have said a word about the raping rabbi. None has called for a lawsuit against the Jewish leaders who protected the raping rabbi. None has even identified who the “prominent rabbi” is in Lakewood who allowed this to happen. And none has called for lawmakers to tax the property of synagogues. They are too concentrated on the groping priest.

The disparate treatment can only be called corruption. These editorial writers and politicians are an absolute disgrace. Their credibility is shot.

Catholic League release May 14 2013

Saturday, 18 May 2013

English as a foreign language in Trinidad! - What?

So the education ministry of the government is thinking about teaching English as a foreign language in Trinidad. I think that there is something wrong with this whole premise.

Firstly, This country is an english speaking country. What we need to do is educate our teachers to NOT SPEAK SLANG.

I think it is relevant to note that Trinidadians travel alot... we go all over the earth. When there are television interviews in the local news, many of the interviewees speak english quite well.

Gone are the days of the french influence in our language. No longer do we say "Yes! Oui!" or even the spanish influence when someone would say globs instead of gloves. (in spanish the v sounds like a b).

What we really need to do is get the Prime Minister and ministers to properly pronounce the name of the body that rules the country .... My dear Kamla it is not a "CYABINET"

Sunday, 5 May 2013


National Consultation on Constitutional Reform: Recommendations

The following is the Catholic commission for Social Justice for the archdiocese of Port of Spain May 1st letter to the Minister of Legal Affairs (Trinidad and Tobago Government)  listing recommendations for Constitutional Reform. The recommendations, made on behalf of the Archdiocese, were approved by Archbishop Joseph Harris.

1 May 2013
Hon Prakash Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs
The Registrar General’s Department
2nd Floor, Registration House, 72-74 South Quay

The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ)
Justice Desk, Archbishop’s House,
27 Maraval Road, Port of Spain                                                        
Tel: 1-868-622-6680 or 299 8945. E-Mail:  Fax: 1-868-622-8372                    

Hon. Minister,

Re: Constitutional Reform

Please find hereunder some recommendations from The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ)

1.      Keeping God in our Constitution

The framers of T&T’s 1976 Constitution rightly understood that the “People of Trinidad and Tobago”
-          acknowledged the supremacy of God;
-          recognized the fact that our rights are bestowed upon us by our Creator;
-          recognized that men/women and institutions “remain free only when freedom is founded upon
           respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law.”

Since 1976 our people continue to support the principles outlined in the Preamble of our Constitution. In fact today, in the midst of all our social ills, more and more people are turning to God for deliverance from e.g. crime and violence, poverty and social exclusion and so on.

While CCSJ accepts that in our fledgling democracy there are a few who wish to take God out of our Constitution, and they are within their right to make this request, it is an indisputable fact that T&T is populated by people of various faiths all of whom will wish to keep God in our Constitution.The Catholic Church is the largest faith community in our country and, on behalf of the Catholic Church, CCSJ urges the Commission to keep “God” in our Constitution. People of faith will continue to stand strong in the face of moral relativism and the negative aspects of secularism which threaten to overwhelm us.

Our cry is: “Not on our watch!” No, we will not capitulate. God bless our nation!

2. We recommend that a provision for the fundamental “right to life from conception” be entrenched in
“(a) the right of the individual to life from conception, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law…”

3. We support the Separation of Powers – separation of the Legislature from the Executive, but urge the Commission to consider mechanisms that will allow for each to function effectively and efficiently.

4. The role of an elected Member of Parliament should be a full-time occupation. If this recommendation is accepted, it will need to be linked to the remuneration package for MPs as they should be adequately compensated for taking on the role on a full-time basis. They can then more effectively serve their constituents, sit on various Committees, and fulfill their duty as legislators.

5. As far as possible, Government Ministers who, with the PM, would form the Executive, should not be Members of Parliament. This will allow MPs more time to respond to the needs of their constituents and for Ministers of Government to ensure that they can fulfil their ministerial portfolios; that their respective Ministries are being run effectively and efficiently; and that they have time to carry out their Cabinet responsibilities. If the PM wishes to identify an MP from his/her team to serve as a Minister, then that individual should be required to resign his/her position as MP and that position should be filled through a by-election. Consideration should be given to ensuring that Ministers who are nominated without having faced the electorate are approved by a special Committee e.g.  of Independent Senators? We recognise the concerns of those who may say that such individuals have not faced the electorate. However, checks and balances could be included in the Constitution e.g. re how they are approved. This will also allow the country to harness the expertise of particular individuals.

6.  We believe that the time has come for TT to consider the introduction of some form of Proportional Representation – either as part of electoral reform or, as part of Constitutional Reform – which would be more sensible. Our Westminster first-past-the-post system of election is not fair and just.  We suggest that the Commission looks again at the Wooding Constitution Commission’s 1974 report in which that Commission recommended a mixed system of first past-the-post and proportional representation. And, as Dr Hamid Ghany has said (TT Guardian 20.1.13):

“If there is a decision in favour of adopting proportional representation, then there will have to be some determination as regards which version would be pursued. Would there be a preference for the “largest remainder” systems of the Hare, Droop or Imperiali methods or would the preference be for the “highest average” systems of the d’Hondt, St Lague or modified St Lague methods?”
7.      The Commission should consider constitutional mechanisms and a framework designed to tackle corruption e.g. in relation to campaign accounts and political financing.

8.      The power of recall: The Constitution should allow for the recall of MPs by their constituents between elections – if found guilty of serious wrongdoing he/she should be asked to stand down and a by-election should be held. The conditions under which ‘recall’ will be triggered will need to be included e.g. in the UK a Draft Bill on this issue suggests that 10% of an MP’s constituents would have to sign a petition requesting a recall for a by-election to happen and that this will only apply to cases where the MP is sent to jail for a year or less, or if the House of Commons decide that an MP’s behaviour justifies it.

9.      CCSJ asks that the deficiencies in our Parliamentary Committee system be examined with a view to improving the way in which they operate. Either we increase the number of MPs who are available to sit on these Committees and/or we allow for non-MPs who are experts in various fields to be co-opted onto these Committees as necessary. As has been suggested in the 2012 report on “Activities on strengthening Parliamentary Practices in T&T”, perhaps, as others have also recommended, we could use more Independent Senators as Chairs of such Committees to reduce partisanship.

10.  Catholics believe in the principle of “subsidiarity”. Constitutional Reform, which is being considered at the same time as Local Government Reform, should examine ways of implementing this principle. The gross inequities in the funding of certain Regional Authorities by Central Government highlight the need for a review of arrangements that are currently made for Local Government. We ask the Commission to explore ways of including in the Constitution provisions that would promote a more just and equitable relationship between Central and Local Government.

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority… Functions of government… should be as local as possible. If a complex function is carried out at a local level just as effectively as on the national level, the local level should be the one to carry out the specified function. The principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual, and holds that all other forms of society, from the family to the state and the international order, should be in the service of the human person.” .

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about this principle:
“1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”7
1884 God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.
1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.”

11.  We believe that there should be a term-limit for anyone to hold the office of Prime Minister. We suggest that no person should hold office as PM for more than 2 terms (whether these terms are consecutive or not).

12.  In the interest of justice for all political parties/individuals, the date of General Elections should be fixed. In a situation in which a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister is passed and Parliament is dissolved, the Constitution should specify how long after this an election should be held.

Leela Ramdeen, Chair of The Catholic Commission for Social Justice, on behalf of members of the Commission.

Simon of Cyrene group in Trinidad offer a solution for dwindling catholic numbers

In the Port of Spain Catholic news of may 5th 2013 there is a letter from the Simon of Cyrene group that seeks to address the issue of why there is a constant decline in the membership of the catholic church.

I would like to applaud their effort. Good job guys.

I would like to suggest something else too -  there should be a sounding board for disgruntled Catholics, where the church could address issues. Too many good catholics have stopped serving because they have come into conflict with priests, or other religious. While a letter to the archbishop could assist, and has in the past, the pained members almost always feels that it is the Bishops priests, not the people's church.  - and maybe it is so. The Catholic news editorial section does not allow for such venting. For example there is a very popular priest who is racist and very arrogant. He needs to understand that such behaviour is unacceptable - the youth of today will look at him as a bad example of the church and think that they can do nothing about such things and then just STOP being an active catholic.So our membership dwindles and we wonder why.

Here is the letter from the Simon of Cyrene group:

DEAR EDITOR, Every time a census is done, the results reveal a declining Catholic Church and there is the usual alarm and exclamations of shock. The local archdiocese has done a lot to address this issue and must take credit for the fact that the decline over the last ten years was less than the period before. However, a lot still has to be done. 

The main reason why people leave the Church is because of a lack of knowledge –not knowing why the Church does the things it does, in the way in which it does it.

To address this, the Church must not only continue its faith-based programmes but must step it up by several notches. This can be done by:

1. ensuring that all catechists are properly trained in the faith – they are to teach the faith, not their own opinions. They should be able to give the scriptural and historical reasons why the Church does what it does and teaches what it teaches.

2. reviewing the curricula for First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA. Today’s youth want answers. It is not like long ago when they would just accept what they were told as truth. Thirty years ago, the information base and style of the Penny Catechism were sufficient. Not so today. The curricula must answer the question WHY? This is how contemporary society learns – by understanding WHY. Criticism of the Confirmation and RCIA programmes from participants includes that it is too long and drawn out and that far too many catechists cannot give the scriptural reasons for the Church’s teachings.

3. providing an opportunity for Catholics to exercise their faith. The Church is bleeding most heavily in the 17-35 age group. This is the tech savvy, high energy group which has usually not yet started a family. The Church should limit all parish leadership positions to a maximum three-year cycle because the 17-35-year-olds go to other churches where they are given something to do and made to feel appreciated.

We at the Simon of Cyrene group have been attempting to provide a solution for 1 and 2 above. We have been preparing, printing and distributing pamphlets for our Know Your Faith ministry (under the auspices of the Association of Catholic Men’s Groups) addressing some of the most commonly questioned areas of the Catholic faith. Some of these are:
  • Why do Catholics believe Jesus is really present in the bread and wine of the communion?
  • Why is the Pope the earthly head of the Catholic Church?
  • Why do Catholics pray to Mary?
  • Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books but the King James Version only 66?
  • Why are Catholic priests unmarried?
  • Why do Catholics confess to a priest instead of going straight to Jesus?
  • Why do Catholic churches have statues and pictures?
  • Why do Catholics baptise infants?
We also conduct seminars (FREE OF CHARGE) at parishes on invitation, where specific topics are discussed but questions are answered on any other topic. Although Confirmation, RCIA and Youth Group coordinators may be particularly interested in these sessions, they could also be made available to Catholic secondary schools and parishioners in general who want to strengthen their faith so that they can be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks them to explain the hope they have in their faith (1 Peter 3:15).
If you want us to come to your parish, please call Thomas @ 682-8030 or Raymond @ 718-0983.

Simon of Cyrene Group,