Diary of a Ghetto Priest | The dilemma of pastors
We have a wonderful reputation of pastors in Jamaica who formed the cultural landscape of this island. Decency, fairness, kindness, the battle between good and evil, and freedom from slavery are part of the work of pastors in Jamaican culture, led by great religious figures such as Marcus Garvey, Boyle, Bedward, and Sam Sharpe.
So why is there this wholesale attack on religious pastors today? Is there sin? Yes. Is there weakness? Yes. Was there sin in those days? Is there need for renewal? Yes.
We are all sinful, including pastors in the past as well as in the present. Still, the duty to articulate right from wrong, good from bad, is necessary if there is to be a moral culture, a people formed by right principles of life given not by man himself, but by God according to His spoken or written Word or by reason derived from His very word.
I am very happy and privileged to be part of that tradition. I am humbled to be numbered among men who continue to shape this beautiful island. All these men - and I will just mention a few such as Al Miller, Hero and Ron Blair, Peter Garth, Clinton Chisolm, Delford Davis, V.P. Williams, Archbishop Sam Carter - are great men and wonderful examples. Are they sinners and do they have weaknesses? Yes. And so do all of us. Must we stop evangelising?
WE ARE ALL SINNERS, INCLUDING PASTORS
Our dilemma is this. We are all sinners, including pastors. Still, we must articulate right from wrong, good from evil to our people. This is our job, imperfect as we are.
What are we to do when we pastors have done wrong? My suggestion is the Catholic answer. That we confess privately to our fellow pastors. But all matters sinful should be heard and treated confidentially and compassionately by someone mature spiritually and designated by the Church. No spread of sin should be brought to others by spreading scandal and calumny. The penitent should be serious to forego his wrongs and avoid all occasion of sins.
In the Scriptures, it is said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." Mt. 18:15-17.
I will also add that if we flaunt our sins and weaknesses before the public eye and call good to be evil, and evil to be good, then this should lead to public chastisement. This pertains to pornography and semi-pornography.
We don't want to destroy the shepherds of our country and our communities. They have a job that is most important and difficult to do. We don't want to throw out what is good and most vital in shaping the moral and spiritual fibre of our country because there are imperfections and sins in our pastors. The prophetic role of ministers is important for the soul of our nation.
I believe we should correct and defend one another. I believe that we should also encourage one another. The world and the evil one will try to divide and separate us. We have an important job to do for God's kingdom.