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Fr Paul plans to preside at Mass on Sunday despite suspension

Fr Paul (l) was approached by Bailiff Terry Registe ® with the suspension letter as soon as he came off the Tyrrel Bay vessel on Saturday morning

A defiant Fr. Gerard Paul has vowed to dismiss his letter of suspension from the Priesthood by the Roman Catholic Bishop in Grenada, Clyde Harvey and preside over the weekly Sunday Mass at his church in River Sallee, St Patrick.

Fr. Paul spoke to THE NEW TODAY within minutes of receiving the suspension letter that was delivered to him by one of the island’s senior Court Bailiffs, Terry Registe who was contracted by the Bishop to hand deliver the two-page document to the outspoken priest.

In an exclusive interview with this news outlet, the clergyman scoffed at Harvey’s letter which sought to sanction him for critical remarks made against the Bishop and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church over its silence on Israel’s alleged acts of genocide against Palestinians in the war with Hamas in Gaza in the Middle East.

“What the Bishop says really means nothing. That’s that – it doesn’t really mean anything to me,” said the longstanding priest who is from a small village in the St Andrew North-east constituency. “Clyde can suspend – these are words that mean absolutely nothing to me so that’s how it is,” he quipped.

According to Fr. Paul, he had been hearing in recent days that Bishop Harvey “was planning some serious action” against him following developments after the signing of the accord for both of them not to engage in any public utterances that will bring the Catholic Church into public disrepute.

The two Eastern Caribbean Court Mediators Terrence Smith and Shireen Wilkinson have reportedly pulled out of the Mediation Exercise after the priest made certain public comments on the issue before his own Congregation and also to local media houses.

Asked what is the next move of Fr Paul in light of the suspension letter, he said: “I just going to do what I was going to do. I am going to say Mass at my church on Sunday. I am going to continue with church as usual.” Fr Paul stressed that there are lots of things to do in his parish in the course of the coming week and as Parish Priest he is “indirectly or directly involved” and he intends to fulfill these obligations.

The Mass at the Holy Family Catholic Church at River Sallee is held every Sunday at 8.30 a.m. Fr Paul pointed out that he went abroad over 38 years ago to study to become a priest and cannot recall in those years that a priest in Grenada had ever been suspended from carrying out his official duties.

He said the fact that no priest had been suspended in those times indicates that no one had done anything that can be considered to be so grave to warrant such drastic action against him. Fr. Paul is insisting that he has not done anything wrong for Bishop Harvey to trigger a suspension from the priesthood.

Related:  The suspension letter

“My take is that the vast majority of people 95 to 100% of the Grenadian population and the Grenadian church are really detested about this suspension thing and everybody is saying that this man (Bishop Harvey) has some personal vendetta against me,” he said.

Fr Paul noted that Bishop Harvey is claiming that he suspended him from the Priesthood not because of the comments on Israel’s action in Gaza but because of his personal attacks on him as head of the flock in Grenada and the wider Roman Catholic Church community.

He scoffed at the notion on the grounds that the Roman Catholic Church is often subjected to open and bitter criticisms from inside the Denomination itself including from Bishops who have expressed serious differences of opinions with the Pope at the Vatican in Rome.

“The African Bishops have met and put out a document to condemn the Pope for his writing and his push to have Priests bless same sex couples. The Pope has the power, he can suspend them but has he suspended them?”

Fr Paul charged that the EWTN channel which is a Catholic religious station have often entertained cleric who have condemned the Pope on many of his positions and is not aware of the Pontiff taking any disciplinary action against them.

There have been mixed reactions among Catholics to the latest turn of events in which Fr. Paul stands suspended from the priesthood by Bishop Harvey with one labelling it as “unbelievable” and “insane.”

One conservative Catholic commented: It’s time to end this idiotic behaviour. Perhaps Paul should book a flight and go to Gaza and join the Hamas fight against Israel.” Another Catholic held the view that Bishop Harvey acted in a very high-handed manner.

He said: Grenadian Catholics should now consider expelling the Bishop from Grenada, not just the Church. Seems that he doesn’t have a forgiving heart. He behaves as though he is the leader of a Political Party or Cult.” Another Catholic called for an end to the battle “for the good of the church”.

“Egos must be checked … the dearth of Catholic priests must be considered before priests are (suspended) over personal hurts and slights … they did not (suspend) all the pedophile priests in Grenada, neither did they defrock those who fathered children … they need to stop acting like scenes from Animal Farm,” she told THE NEW TODAY.

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