Archbishop tells citizens stop being ‘wayward sheep’

Archbishop Jason Gordon has called on citizens to stop being “wayward and wilful sheep,” saying apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, T&T is facing the scourge of gang warfare and domestic violence.

He was speaking to reporters after delivering the homily at the Feast of La Divina Pastora at the La Divina Pastora RC Church in Siparia over the weekend.

Gordon, who has spoken out against COVID-19 breaches within his own church before the Easter holidays, said he was pleased that all COVID-19 protocols were followed during yesterday’s festivities.

Asked about the spiralling murders, including that of Movement for Social Justice member Osei Lennard, Gordon said crime can only be brought under control when citizens take charge of their wayward and errant behaviour.

“Everybody wants somebody to fix crime but if we stop being errant and wayward sheep, then crime will fix. It is because the citizen is willing to flout the law that we have high crime,” Gordon said.

He added, “We have a whole culture of indiscipline. We have deep anger in our country, seething in so many places. The domestic violence in our land is terrible because we have not found a way to really touch those who have this anger and give them another way out of it.”

He said domestic violence and gang violence were “pandemics at this time.” 

“We have to build a culture of peace from the little child up. What happens could have been averted if they learnt how to deal with difficult emotions and deal with powerlessness,” he added.

To curb the violence, Gordon said there must be the teaching of peace.

Asked whether the parish had followed the COVID-19 protocols, Gordon said, “I think the parish did very well. We kept to the time and 25 per cent of seating capacity was kept at the church. We did everything with good social distancing. The parish did a lot of work to ensure that we kept the protocols.”

He said when it comes to COVID-19, citizens must forego personal likes and dislikes and think about the common good.

“Every individual has to say to themselves that every citizen is depending on me to do what is right. If I do what is right, then the whole thing will go right. Let us wash hands, keep social distancing and ensure that we wear the masks so we will keep this nation safe,” Gordon said.

“We are living in a dangerous time in our nation. Where the numbers are going in all the wrong directions. We want God to spare us from this pandemic.”

The Feast of La Divina Pastora, a statue venerated as the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, is usually paraded in the streets of Siparia on the fourth Sunday after Easter but that was debarred this year due to the pandemic.

Some worshippers say the statue of La Divina cures ailments and provides miracles to faithful ones. The Hindus also worship her as Suparee Mai, a manifestation of goddess Kali, while indigenous people, including the Warao, also worship the statue, along with Spiritual Baptists, Buddhists, Yorubas and Bahai followers. People make offerings of rice, gold, money, flowers, oil and jewellery to the statute in return for blessings.