Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada has instructed clergy that they are not to lead prayers for candidates or parties nor preach in favour of or against any particular party, whether in church or at political meetings, ahead of their upcoming general elections, March 13.
“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,” the bishop said in a statement sent to all Catholic faithful and citizens in the diocese, January 25.
In it, Bishop Harvey maintained that while it is citizens’ right to vote in the best interest of the nation, “The Catholic Church takes no side in this election.” He hoped that citizens in this election and beyond may discern what is the will of God for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“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.”
The bishop however mentioned that Lay Catholics are free to support openly whomever they wish: “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.”
He also strongly urged citizens to do their best to keep the level of political discourse high and warned that 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 wounds. We still have to live together beyond this election,” he said.
Bishop Harvey shared that when he first saw the new Parliament Building rising on the Hill, it reminded him of the Acropolis of Athens, the birthplace of Western democracy. He 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.