Sat | Nov 17, 2018

No reprisals - PM urges church to preach against vengeance

Published:Thursday | January 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Bishop Dr Delford Davis (centre), head of the Power of Faith Ministries joins hands with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, (right) and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips as they prayed for families across the nation at the Heal the Family Heal the Nation conference at The National Arena yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday urged the Church to use the pulpit to confront the issue of vengeance, which is responsible for many of the murders taking place across the island.

Last year, at least 1,570 murders were recorded in Jamaica, and the police have described many of them as reprisal killings.

Giving his address at the 13th staging of the Heal the Family, Heal the Nation conference at the National Arena in St Andrew, Holness issued a charge to the clergy and citizens to expose lawlessness as it emerges.

"There is another element of violence that I want to point out - and I think that the Church should take on - and it is vengeance. Many of our murders stem from reprisals. Somebody is killed, a family member says, 'If I don't catch 'Quako', catch him shut' (proverb), and I must find somebody to kill - vengeance," the prime minister said.

"The Church can play an important role in dealing with the issue of violence. I say to the leaders of the clergy, 'You have to bring it to your pulpit.' We can't allow for what is happening to be covered up, particularly the abuse that is happening within the family. We must preach out against the fathers who are molesting their daughters. Some mothers remain quiet, and then that daughter grows up with anger in her, she has children and takes it out on the children, and all those children will know is violence," Holness said.

The prime minister continued: "If we see something like that (abuse), it is not right. It cannot be accepted as part of our culture. We must expose it and preach against it."

He also urged leaders to look more deeply into the issue of violence.

"We talk about crime, but we don't talk enough about violence, and it is the violence that breeds the crime."

Eradicate violence in the family

"Violence is ripping us apart. There is just too much violence," Prime Minister Andrew Holness said.

"Recently, I came across a young lady who felt the need to speak about being raped by her father - violence in the family. You would have seen incidents circulating in the news and on social media, [where] young children are being abused and beaten badly by frustrated mothers or fathers - violence in the family. You would have also heard of many cases of intimate partner abuse - boyfriend beating up girlfriend, husband and wife fighting - violence in the family."

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips admitted that there have been too many shortfalls in leadership.

"We must admit that over the years, including this past year, although we have made much progress, we have not done as well as we should and we have not done as well as we could. We have certainly not done enough as a people to build Jamaica. Too many citizens have been left behind, too many citizens still feel the pangs of poverty and distress, and too many homes have lost loved ones to the gun."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com