An article published in last week’s edition of THE NEW TODAY under the headline, “Catholic Church Hits back” generated quite a bit of discussions and debate in the country.
This article dealt with the position being adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in Grenada that a certain percentage of places in Secondary Schools that bear the name of the church should be set aside for children of the faith who performed well in the annual exam at the primary school level to take them into secondary school life.
THE NEW TODAY is fully aware that this is not a new position being adopted by the church since it existed before but some persons within the Ministry of Education for whatever reason choose to ignore it and as such many Catholic children were placed at a disadvantage when it came to children from other religious denominations getting a place in front of them in a Catholic-administered secondary school.
There are those who are taking the position that the Catholic Church is engaging in favouritism to its own and is too selfish.
This is so far from the truth if anyone looked at the number of things that are done by the Roman Catholic Church in Grenada to the benefits of all and sundry in the country.
This is one religious group that brings in tonne loads of food supplies and other items into Grenada on a regular basis and do share the stuff with many other religious denominations and groups in the country for use primarily as relief for the poor and vulnerable in the society.
Among the beneficiaries to this kind of help from the Catholic Church are the elderly and children’s home, the Richmond Hill Prison, the Grenada Food and Nutrition Council (GFNC), various non-Catholic schools, as well as other religions such as the Adventists, Pentecostals, Salvation Army, Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, Deliverance Ministry and other Evangelical churches.
The Catholic Church is not known to be boastful of the help that is given to these organisations since the assistance rendered is really intended to help the real marginalised persons in the community.
It is not uncommon for some of the churches and organisations to take in front and not wait but to make direct requests and approaches to the Catholic Church for supplies and they are never turned down once the items are available.
As a matter of fact, some politicians in the country have been able to cash in on those very items brought in by the Catholic Church by laying their hands on them and giving out to their own supporters and the poor in anticipation of getting their votes on Election Day.
Is that the action of a selfish church?
However, the Roman Catholic Church like any other religious denomination in Grenada has a right to take action which it sees fit once it perceives that attempts are being made in a clandestine manner by persons occupying the seat of political power in the country to change the identity of the church especially at the level of the school.
No one should be allowed to interfere with any religious sect in the country whether it be Anglican, Catholic, Methodist or any of the other recognised Evangelical religious groups because our Constitution recognises freedom of worship.
However, it is a different thing when politicians and their political operatives working from inside a government ministry would seek to engage in subtle and underhand deals to try and undermine a particular religious group.
This is taking us right back to the period of 1979-83 when the Marxist-oriented New Jewel Movement-led People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) attempted to infiltrate our religious groups and institutions, especially the strong and powerful Roman Catholic church.
THE NEW TODAY will give full support to the stand being taken by the Roman Catholic Church on the percentage factor in Catholic schools being set aside for the children of the faithful who performed admirable in the exams for admittance to a secondary school.
The same principle should equally apply to those secondary schools on the island that are influenced by religions such as the Anglicans, Adventists and Methodists.
Even the Adventists will complain that children from families who follow their faith often run into difficulties in other secondary schools who are against their religion and that is wrong and should be condemned.
No right thinking Grenadian should support a policy in which the children of a particular religious denomination who want to go to a school aligned to their denomination, should be denied that opportunity by some misguided religious zealot or fanatic in the Ministry of Education.
The Catholic Church has a right to protect its identity especially against those parents who want to send their children to Catholic schools to get a good education but in the same breath will turn around and encourage these students to be disrespectful of things Catholic.
We all know the saying, “When you go to Rome do as the Romans do” and the Catholic Church like any other religious denomination in the country should safeguard and protect its identity.
It should not allow anyone who does not conform or subscribe to their theological thinking and way of doing things to come into the schools that are Roman Catholic and show disrespect to the faith.
THE NEW TODAY can point to the children of Muslims who attend Catholic schools and show great respect to Catholicism while they do not believe or practice the religion.
The parents of these children know the hours of assembly done in keeping with the Catholic Faith and will only bring their children to school after the designated time for the assembly has passed.
However, there are some misguided parents from other religious denominations who would encourage their children to show open defiance, as well as engage in behaviour that can be considered as an affront to the Catholic church and its teachings.
If you want the child to attend a Catholic, Anglican, Methodist or Adventist school, these parents need to instill in them the need to be respectful of the teachings of these religious denominations and the churches must stand firm on their principle.