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Politicians must share the pain, bishop declares: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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The Jamaican government’s call for the country to make sacrifices to see the nation through the economic depression that has gripped the Caribbean, must also be borne by the nation’s leaders, the Bishop of the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands told the 144th meeting of the diocese’s synod on 22 April 2014. The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory welcomed the recent statement by the Governor General, Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition that the country was in need of a moral reawakening, but Jamaica’s leaders must set an example. The situation facing the country was analogous to that Israeli faced with during the time of the Prophet Nehemiah, the bishop said.  “Nehemiah, having challenged the people to make sacrifices for the common good by redeeming their debt, recognised that he, too, had to send a positive signal as to what he was prepared to do on his part,” he said. “It was not enough for him to be the leader of this mission. So Nehemiah took the decision to forgo his allowance as governor because of the heavy tax burden which the people were already being asked to bear,” Dr. Gregory said, adding Jamaica’s “need to send a signal which says that they, too, are part of the sacrifice, part of the project – not from somewhere up there, but on the ground where it hurts.”

Crime concerns dominate Jamaican synod: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013, p 7. April 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Corruption, Crime, Gambling.
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The Bishop of Jamaica has denounced his government’s slow response to a lottery scam that has defrauded thousands of elderly Americans, saying it was symptomatic of the breakdown of law and order in the West Indies.

In his presidential address to the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands at the 143rd annual meeting of Synod held at St Ann’s Bay parish church, Bishop Howard Gregory said the “system of justice needs to become a primary focus of attention.”

“As a nation we are being called to repentance with a consequent change of action in relation to the blood of our young men and our women and children which is being shed daily in our country by criminal elements, but just as significant in the resolution of domestic disputes.”

The Bishop condemned the government for permitting the sale of lottery tickets on Sunday. He noted that the legislation passed during holy week led him to ask “whether this is an expression of gross insensitivity or a statement concerning the way forward for the relationship between church and society”.

He also took the government to task for not moving to stop the “Jamaican lottery scam” until the U.S. Senate began hearings on the crimes.

A report by CBS reported that in 2012 over 29,000 lottery scam complaints were filed with American police agencies. Posing as representatives of Publishers Clearinghouse and other lottery and sweepstakes firms, the scammers would tell elderly Americans that they had won a cash prize but first needed to make a tax payment before the money would be released. The Jamaican-based fraud had taken in tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors have alleged.

“After seven years of public awareness of the lottery scam, our Government has only managed to table anti-scamming legislation and talk tough at the very moment when the United States Senate was holding a [Senate] hearing on the scam in Jamaica,” Bishop Gregory said.

The government’s failure to act did nothing to combat Jamaica’s reputation as a den of crime and corruption. “The way we are presenting ourselves to the world in terms of our moral values as a nation calls for serious repentance on the part of citizens and political leaders as a whole,” he said.

The willingness also of ordinary Jamaicans to countenance the lottery scam told the world “we have some very skewed moral values.”

Think twice about a republic, Jamaican bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 6. June 15, 2012

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Dr. Howard Gregory

The Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has urged Jamaicans to think carefully before backing the Caribbean island government’s plans for a republic.

In a service at St. Andrew’s Parish Church in Kingston marking the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen on 10 June 2012, the Rt. Rev. & Hon. Howard Gregory stated the “zeal” to become a republic would not solve the country’s political problems.

“Today, our nation now finds itself at the crossroads as we seek to continue the historical process of self-identity and self-definition, which was consolidated in our attainment of Independence in 1962. Fifty years later, we now seek to take a further step by taking the inevitable step towards becoming a republic.”

“I believe that in our zeal, we run the real risk of discrediting the monarchical system of governance which has brought us thus far. While we do so in a political culture, which is increasingly cynical and despairing of political leadership and governance, we need to be extremely careful that we do not evaluate the system which has brought us thus far with such negativity, if not impoliteness and ungraciousness,” the bishop said.

Drawing upon middle class fiscal discontent the People’s National Party (PNP) led by Portia Miller-Simpson trounced the ruling conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the 29 December 2011 election.  While the swing toward the PNP was only 3.7 per cent, with only 60,000 votes separating the parties out of 800,000 cast, the PNP won the majority of closely contested districts, giving it 42 seats to the JLP’s 21 in parliament.

Among its campaign pledges, the PNP promised to break its current ties with the UK and establish a republic in time for the 50th anniversary of independence celebration.

Speaking at a beacon lighting ceremony in downtown Kingston last week in celebration of the Jubilee, Mrs. Simpson-Miller affirmed her government’s desire to become a republic.  But she added that Jamaica will always hold the monarchy in high esteem and valued its membership in the Commonwealth.

However, in his Jubilee sermon Bishop Gregory questioned the moves toward a republic, and lauded the Queen’s service to her subjects.

“Having assumed the throne, which was thrust upon her by circumstances that were not of her making, … she has brought to the monarchy … singleness of purpose, dedication and sensitivity to her people, often a resounding theme in her Christmas messages and on the occasion of her visit to various nations. She has also brought a level of humanity and public engagement as much as the office has allowed as head of a royal household and of a realm,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Keep drug money out of church, bishop pleads: The Church of England Newspaper, May 31, 2012 May 31, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Corruption.
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Bishop Howard Gregory

The Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt. Rev. & Hon. Howard Gregory called upon Anglicans to stand fast against the tide of corruption racing through the West Indian nation.

In his 18 May 2012 sermon at his service of institution as 14th bishop of Jamaica held at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town, Dr. Gregory said the church must recommit itself to preaching the Gospel with “power and effectiveness” to a “world that is desperately in need of the good news, even as it is being bombarded by secularism which, while seeking to undermine religious faith, has nothing to offer in filling the void it is creating in the life of persons seeking to find a sense of meaning and purpose.”

Christians are a “people called out and yet in the world,” the bishops said.  And “this calls for an act of consecration of the self to God and to God’s service if this is to be realised.”

In Jamaica this consecration of the self must include a rejection of the culture of corruption that was ravaging the country.

“We live in a society which is permeated at every level by corruption, and in which we benefit co-operatively from ill-gotten gain, and not just the acts of corruption, supposedly restricted to politicians and those in the public service,” the bishop said.

“For example, the inflows into this country from the lotto scam has wide circulation within the economy, and there is not only a culture of silence around it among some persons, but there are many who would suggest that there is nothing wrong with it. When parents can accept the gift of a home from a 15-year-old who is not working, and be contented with it, and when teachers in our schools can tell us of the high school students who own their own substantial three-bedroom house, and multiple taxis plying routes, you know that things have gone terribly wrong in this country, where our values and morality are concerned,” the bishop said.

It was no good pointing the finger at others, Dr. Gregory said, as the church was caught up in this web also.  “We, members of the Church, are caught up in the corruption or are benefiting from it.”

Church fundraising activities “need to be subjected to closer scrutiny, as they run the risk of bringing drug and other tainted money into the coffers of the Church. Likewise, while the Church seeks to minister to the spiritual needs of all people, we must be careful how we bend over backward to charge fees and to accommodate some funerals that are bashment affairs funded by money of dubious origin,” Dr. Gregory said.

The bishop also challenged Anglicans to “re-think the excesses and vulgarity which are attending many weddings and funerals, even as those making such expenditures and displays claim to have nothing to assist needy children and young people in our congregations and society.”

Some cultures believe that “nothing goes into the ground with the dead which cannot be of use to the next generation. We would do well to take a leaf out of their book so that we can invest in the creation of a community of love” and for a better Jamaica, the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.