By Rafael Ferdinand, St Mary’s College
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Archbishop Jason Gordon. Five students from Fatima College and three from St Mary’s College including myself were in attendance. From the time I arrived I was greeted very warmly by His Grace. Once everyone had gathered, he informed us that we would be engaging in open discussion and he would answer any questions we had.
Given the intense scrutiny religious institutions have been under recently, particularly the Catholic Church, I saw this as a chance to pose some serious questions to the archbishop and more importantly hear his views on certain topics such as the Church’s role in society, sexuality and how the Church continues to evolve. I was pleasantly surprised when His Grace answered our questions with equal humour and candour.
Over a delicious meal, Archbishop Jason imparted invaluable knowledge but more importantly, we were given insight to different perspectives. In a time where the Catholic Church and its role in society is increasingly coming under attack from younger people, it was refreshing to see a person of the archbishop’s status give two sides to the story of the Catholic Church.
He admitted that while the Church has had its shortcomings in the past and while many of its teachings may be contentious or up for interpretation, the Catholic Church continues to be a force for good in the global community. He also reiterated the importance of keeping your faith.
On atheism, His Grace posed a series of very simple questions relating to the creation of the universe while simultaneously offering up all the highly improbable but scientifically proven events that combined to make the universe. We all concluded that there must be a higher power.
The final and most humorous example of Archbishop Jason’s refreshing mindset came on the topic of sex before marriage. Though it took some time for one of us to build up the courage to ask the question of whether we could or could not, His Grace simply responded “You can”. All of us were astounded by his response.
We kept prodding for a “but” or condition to this newfound information and His Grace was equally surprised at our reaction. Eventually he continued and said you should only have sex with a person you love and further went on to ask how do you know if you love someone? Despite our best efforts for once none of us could come up with a correct answer.
His Grace informed us that true love is commitment, through the bond of marriage, thus giving us new insight to an age-old rule.
My lunch with the archbishop was insightful, refreshing, humorous and left my peers and me with a lot to ponder. I sincerely believe that the Church should begin having such open dialogue with young Catholics the way His Grace has done over the last few months as it can help strengthen and guide young Catholics who find themselves questioning their faith.