Stop race talk – archbishop warns Trinis

(Trinidad Express) Outgoing Roman Catholic Archbishop Edward Gilbert yesterday warned of further division among citizens in the face of growing cries of racism and discrimination by politicians.

And he called on religious bodies to play their part in turning the population away from ongoing discrimination.

His call comes on the heels of recent cries of discrimination from both the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM), which has accused the ruling People’s Partnership Government of favouring communities which are pro-Government; and the People’s Partnership Government, which has accused the former PNM administration of racial discrimination in awards of over $45 million through a secret scholarship fund.

Speaking following the 225th anniversary Mass at the Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Harris Promenade, San Fernando, Gilbert said the tendency of many people within this society is still to take care of their own.

“Politicians take care of their own constituencies on the basis of race, ethnicity or politics, and one of the things we need as a country—the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said it, the President George Maxwell Richards has said it—we need to return to values of universal nature.

“One of the things that we have to watch is the tribalism in the Middle East that is still going on in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. If people… just… take care of their own, it is not good for the country,” he said.

He said a lack of values inevitably shows up in behaviour eventually, if not immediately, but especially when people have no religious tradition to fall back on.

“Which is why they can cut each other on the streets and have the drug wars and the violence.

“The way back from that is to have all the religious traditions. I am familiar with the (IRO) Inter-Religious Organisation, talking to their people and teaching them the right things, and talking to the young people about values because some of these kids have absolutely nothing; they get nothing from their families.”

He said the curfew imposed under the State of Emergency had reduced the number of killings, but he would much rather see the country renewing itself in terms of values to eventually get to the point where curfews would no longer be needed; because while it was necessary to have a curfew, it was a shame that this country needed it.

“I believe the value problem is an enormous issue. It is a growing problem for the Caribbean and it is spreading everywhere,” Gilbert said.

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