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Church reaches out to murder victims’ families: Too much suffering
Published: Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Sunday, January 29, 2017
Criticised in the past for doing little to assist in the fight against the criminal elements, the country’s religious leaders are going on an aggressive drive to embrace families affected by the scourge of crime and to ultimately heal the nation.
This as T&T recorded the highest murder rate ever in January for the last four years, as weekend homicides pushed the murders up to 53. Last January there were 49 murders recorded.
Interim Rector of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-of-Spain, Fr Carl Williams, who like Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris agreed that the crime situation was out of hand, yesterday called on people to emulate the teachings of Jesus Christ by displaying love and mercy to each other.
Saying that too many young people were being mercilessly gunned down, Williams said, “I could just imaging the pain parents are going through.”
He said one of the initiatives of the Holy Trinity Cathedral was to bring hurting parents together to ensure they could cope with the trauma of losing a child.
“If it is not their children who are killed, it is their grandchildren or their mother or father and we don’t know who is next. Families are suffering,” Williams said.
He quoted from the Apostle Paul, who had said that to believe in Jesus Christ a person must suffer for Christ.
“I believe the church must take up the privilege of suffering for Christ. I think this is an area where we fail to be less willing to enter into.
“It means that the Church must be willing to be at the cutting edge of healing missions by way of pro-justice and pro-life…that is life in all its fullness,” Williams said. “We have to now do more. It is not just about talk all the time. It is about what are we doing to bring about transformation in our society.”
He also called on each household to engage in retrospect and come up with its own solutions to eradicate crime community by community.
In some instances, Williams said parents, grandparents and professed community leaders were aware of the criminals, as those who committed robberies, for instance, shared the loot with their families or community members.
“We must say together that we want no part of that.
“We must gain things honestly through sacrifice and sweat and this must start in the home,” Williams said, as he also questioned what examples were being given to children.
He said simple acts of kindness and concern to neighbours could make a vast difference in rebuilding communities, such as giving food to the hungry.
Those who refuse to abide by the law, for example by refusing to pay taxes, Williams said, would ultimately rob the poor, struggling people in society.
“They may be robbing persons of an education, food, employment and sustainable development,” he added.
He said during one of the church’s outreach programmes, someone came from as far as San Fernando to get food.
Government, Williams urged, must continue to help the “very poorest of the poor” who cannot held themselves, adding that there must be transparency and accountability at all levels of society.
“We don’t know what decisions are made behind closed doors,” Williams added.
On the beheading and other heinous crimes talking place in society, Williams questioned whether killers who showed no mercy could in fact be rehabilitated. Some of these people continue to do the same thing over and over again, he noted.
“The Church is about pro-life but at the same time where a person could dismember someone…where you could put a gun to a teenager’s head…that shows no mercy,” he said.
“There is absolutely no compassion. I am saying to those persons who commit a crime, come into the church and talk to a priest.”
He said the church, which is normally opened up to 5.30 pm, will now be extending it hours to 6 pm to encourage people of all walks to seek help and solace.
“Don’t try to destroy another human being. Come into the Church and take it to God in prayer.”
Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Joseph Harris, says this year is the year of hospitality in the Catholic Church and he will be introducing this come Ash Wednesday.
He also urged his congregation to become more involved in their various communities and embrace hurting families, adding, “We need to embrace people more to help them get over their difficulties. It is very necessary to embrace hurting families.”
Last year in the Catholic Church was the year of mercy.
Harris said each parish was responsible for coming up with a plan to reach out to communities more.
On the death penalty, he said the position of the Church had not changed, as it was opposed to this adding.
“If you don’t catch people who you hanging? The murders have a knee jerk reaction.”
He said the RC Church also believed that even the person who committed the most heinous of crimes could be rehabilitated.
“These murders are awful and it says that as a society we don’t care for each other any more. As a society, there are people who go the extra mile but there are many people who don’t seem to have any concern for other,” Harris said.
But he added that the vast majority of the murders were drug-related and questioned why those who brought in the narcotics were not apprehended.
“Is is that we can’t find them or we don’t want to find them? The late PM Manning said he knew who Mr Big was…well why wasn’t he arrested,” Harris questioned.