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'Send us a clear signal urgently'

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM
  • Anglican bishop wants action on corruption

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

NEWLY ELECTED Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt Reverend Dr Howard Gregory, said the nation is awaiting a clear signal from the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration that it is breaking the cycle of corruption that has plagued public officials and institutions in Jamaica.

Delivering the sermon at the commencement of the 142nd Annual Synod at the St Ann Parish Church on Tuesday, Gregory also called on the Government to act to defuse the tension between police and citizens and renew the friendly relations between them.

In a wide-ranging commentary, Gregory also encouraged scepticism in light of persons presenting themselves as advocates for the poor, while at the same time challenging the Church to reaffirm Christian principles on the society.

It was a packed church that included Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, Chief Justice Zaila McCalla, members of the diplomatic corps and the judiciary, that heard the Church's first challenge to the three-month old Govern-ment. It came as the Anglican Church began its three-day Synod at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios.

NATION'S moral conscience

According to Gregory: "There are many social ills which confront the society and which have at base moral and religious ramifications, not just by way of implications, but by way of imperatives, which must drive us as Christians to act and to let our voices be heard, but beyond mere chatter for which we are so famous. Having become what is perhaps the talk-show capital of the world, we must act in ways that the moral and religious implications of our faith commitment are evident to the society, whether we are clergy or laity.

"In this regard, it cannot go unnoticed that, although those in governance have never claimed to be the moral conscience of the nation, a task often claimed by, or attributed to the Church, the nation awaits a clear signal from the new Government that it is breaking the cycle of corruption, which has plagued our public officials and institutions and which led to the apathy and low voter turnout in the last general election. Because, make no bones about it, a continuing low voter turnout undermines the legitimacy of our democracy."

Current flaws

Gregory lamented that such task and mission have been complicated by a level of polarisation in the society. He noted that one feature of life in the society is the failure to nip certain developing social problems in the bud, preferring instead to wait until it is full- blown. When corrective measures are to be taken, persons charged with such responsibility are seen as pariahs of society, or have to go for the overkill in order to prove they are being effective, he said.

As examples, Gregory identified conflicts between Contractor General Greg Christie and various public officials and institutions, lately, the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme; between the Independent Commission of Investigations and the Jamaica Constabulary Force; and between the Office of Commissioner of Police and Jamaicans for Justice.

He suggested that a solution be found to resolve these differences as the country cannot afford to do without any of those organisations.