To all the Catholic Faithful in the diocese of St George’s-in-Grenada and to all citizens of good will.
Beloved in Christ, Grenada stands on the verge of another general election. Once more the people of God in Grenada have the opportunity to choose who will lead them politically and economically. We can all be grateful to God that we live in a participatory democracy which allows all citizens 18 years and over to exercise their franchise. This is our right in a democracy which places on us an awesome responsibility to use our vote in the best interest of the nation.
In small countries like ours every vote counts and a seat may well be lost by a single vote. In many countries, including developed ones, the process is corrupted by fraud, bribery and deception. Elections can be bought by those who would control countries and governments in their own self-interest. Grenada can still boast of free and fair elections. As your Bishop, I strongly urge you to participate in the process by listening to the debates in the media, at political meetings and in friendly encounters with friends who may be of a different political persuasion.
As Catholic Christians we respond to the call of the Lord to work to bring about the reign of God in our land. It is our response to God in Christ which challenges us to build in community, village, town and nation a world in which respect, dignity, equality, justice and peace are the pillars of our social life., We thank God for all those who offer themselves, as candidates, to be servants of the people and nation and are clearly committed to these Gospel values.
The Catholic Church takes no side in this election. Grenada’s history has created an electorate which values its democracy and is committed to protecting their rights and values. The history of the Catholic Church teaches us that Church leaders should not directly involve themselves in partisan politics by seeking to be candidates for political parties or by urging church members to vote for any particular party. The Church, both leaders and members, must always respect the political choices of every citizen.
I have therefore instructed the clergy that they are not to preach in favour of or against any particular party, whether in church or at political meetings. Clergy are not to appear on political platforms to lead prayers for candidates or parties. Other churches may act differently. We act in the wisdom of a 2,000 year experience which other churches may not yet have. When we enter the House of the Lord, especially for Eucharist, we ought to be united around the Table of the Lord, regardless of our political affiliation.
Lay Catholics are free to support openly whomsoever they wish and may invoke the blessing of God on political occasions. The Church leaves them free to make their own political choices, trusting that they will do so in accordance with God’s will after prayerful reflection on the issues.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to do your best to keep the level of political discourse high over these days. No Catholic, candidate or ordinary citizen, should descend into the gutter of character assassination. We now clearly see that as a form of murder, and against the Fifth Commandment. In our quest for office, hopefully a genuine desire to serve, we sometimes lose our moral and spiritual moorings. We cannot put our words back into our mouths. Apologies and excuses do not heal these wounds. We still have to live together beyond this election.
When I first saw the new Parliament Building rising on the hill, it reminded me of the Acropolis of Athens, the birthplace of Western democracy. I dared to hope and pray that Grenada could become the Athens of the Caribbean where the political discourse may be known for its quality and that full mature citizen participation may be always assured.
“Remembering the mercies of God, let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that (in this election and beyond) you may discern what is the will of God (for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique) what is good and acceptable and mature. (cf. Romans 12:1-2). God bless our tri-island nation now and always. Amen.
Clyde Martin Harvey
Bishop of St George’s-in-Grenada,
Carriacou and Petite Martinique.