Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston said that the hope for 2019 must be that citizens do not lose the gains they are making as a nation by failing to unite in addressing obstacles to national development. He called on Jamaicans to let their hearts be united in love for the country so that together by the grace of God, they can build a better nation.
The Archbishop’s views were shared in his Facebook post, January 3 titled ‘Can the goodwill of our politicians bring to realisation: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty and fidelity for a better?’.
His statement was made after Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ invitation to Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and his team to a meeting on Wednesday, January 2.
The purpose of the meeting was to arrive at what the Head of Government called a consensus regarding solutions to the crime problem. In the late months of 2018, the Government had declared a State of Public Emergency in three areas of Jamaica experiencing an increase in violent crime.
The Gleaner reported that in the letter to Phillips, PM Holness maintained that the current crime situation is a threat to the security of the country and a national emergency of exceptional public importance.
However, reacting to the statement by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Opposition said “it does not wish to enter a controversial exchange with the Prime Minister or his office”.
In his post, Archbishop Richards said to achieve these “noble values”, politicians must appreciate the calling and opportunity of the political office they hold and the political responsibility they are called to fulfil.
“Thus, having been elected to office, we implore our politicians to make every effort to create conditions that respect all life, safeguard freedom, and protect the dignity of every person; so that, as Pope Francis says, ‘political life becomes an outstanding form of charity’.”
He recalled Pope Francis’ ‘Beatitudes of the Politician’, proposed by the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận. It states:
Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the politician who is without fear.
Archbishop Richards hoped that politicians will bring legitimacy to governance by service that promotes a bond of trust, sparing citizens the lament of perennial corruption, partisan self-serving motive and obstructionism.
He added that leaders must provide solutions that go beyond temporary psychological impact that accommodate compromise of constitutional rights when dealing with crime.
“And our nation needs leadership that forsakes the apparent primacy given to holding or seeking power at all cost, so that the virtue of a bipartisan collaboration is not given a chance to address deep-rooted social problems that continue to retard the overall well-being of our citizens and the socio-economic advancement of our nation,” the Archbishop said.