Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Devon Dick | Roman Catholic Richards on a roll

Published:Thursday | June 22, 2017 | 6:00 AM

Recently, The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Kingston celebrated 50 years of autonomy in an impressive worship service at the National Arena. The afternoon service was started by a roll call of the various congregations and presided over by Archbishop Kenneth Richards.

It is clear that Jamaica's political independence from the British colonial empire gave Jamaicans confidence in the ability to manage church affairs and to be creative. Hence, post-independence, the Roman Catholics created a diocese in Kingston; the Methodists in Jamaica became an autonomous body shedding the British cloak, and the Jamaica Baptist Union started the hour Christian programme Christ for Today on RJR, and also opened Horizon Home for the Aged.

Sam Sharpe, national hero and Baptist deacon, was way ahead of his time in leading the 1831 Baptist War against the might of Britain. Sharpe was not following the political directorate, but, as a church leader, was provoking a political change. Post-emancipation was different from post-independence in terms of church and state relations.

Perhaps, Archbishop Richards will lead the change for people empowerment. Reminiscent of the early church, he sat and delivered his sermon. This passionate sermon showed that he was comfortable with his sexuality and his celibate life commitment. He told the audience that it was OK to be 'beautiful and sexy'. However, this was not an excuse to be sexually loose. He called upon the young people to be chaste before marriage. He made it clear that the Roman Catholics were for sexual purity. He challenged those who were married to be faithful to their partners. This was an important call to fidelity in marriage when people are committing adultery based on finding someone who is 'hot' or because they feel that they are not getting enough sex or attention from their spouse.

 

ROLL OF WOMEN

 

The Roman Catholic worship service underscored traditional doctrines such as calling Mary the mother of God and affirming her perpetual virginity. In addition, intercessions were made through the Virgin Mary. Perhaps only the Seventh-day Adventists within their adoration of Ellen G. White come close to the Roman Catholics in its veneration of a woman in Christianity. In addition, women place a significant role in the life of the worship experience apart from being priests. Women were involved in announce-ments, robing of the ordained, as ushers and reading the Holy Bible.

Although Archbishop Richards was surrounded by Archbishop Emeritus Egerton Clarke and Don Reece, who are larger than life, it was clear that he was in charge and leading the Roman Catholics. He was directing the worship, leading the praise of those who did good work and also had the two ordinands pledge allegiance to him.

The service was held in a context of murders spiking when compared to 2016, which was worse than 2015. It is the Roman Catholic Church as a denomination more than most that are qualified and equipped to lead the assault on crime and violence. The Roman Catholics have never shun from ministering to the least in society. They understand more than most the income inequality in society and the need to address that issue. The Roman Catholics more than most have never shun working in depressed communities and would understand the values and attitudes of the inner city. There has to be a coming together of the 'them vs us' mentality. The Roman Catholics have members in the political class in their fold and part of the solution is to cut the umbilical cord between politics and criminality and challenge the governing authorities to release the requisite resources for crime-fighting.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.