|Archbishop Reece on violence in Jamaica: Let us not lose hope - May 30|
|2010 - News|
|Friday, 28 May 2010 12:39|
The archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica has described the situation in the capital as a runaway vehicle, and called on clergy and faithful to pray and “not lose hope”.
“I am requesting that at every Mass—especially weekend liturgies—at the end of the Prayer of the Faithful, we pray the traditional Prayer to St Michael, the Archangel,” Archbishop Donald Reece urged in a May 24 letter to priests, deacons and parish administrators.
The archbishop’s letter follows the Jamaican government’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Kingston as gangs loyal to alleged crime lord or “don”, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, battled security forces to prevent his extradition to the United States. As Catholic News goes to press Wednesday, the death toll had passed 40, many of them civilians.
Archbishop Reece, who is also president of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, said the situation in Jamaica has been in the making for some time, as a result of “decades of slackness and lack of integrity and accountability on the part of all, but especially politicians of both major political parties who have courted and cultivated the ‘dons’ and gangs in areas to secure votes.” He added that by doing so, “an unhealthy situation of dependency and lawlessness” has spawned.
“Given the stranglehold that exists in the communities in questions, I firmly believe that spiritual warfare is being waged in this land that was once known for its neighbourliness and friendliness, traits we can still find in many rural communities,” wrote Archbishop Reece. “However, nowadays gang rivalry and rape, drugs and gun-trafficking, extortion in broad daylight, maiming and murder, blockading of garrisons and public thoroughfare, attacks on the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Defence Force by criminal elements seem to be the order of the day.”
The archbishop feared further anarchy, describing it “like a runaway vehicle with no brakes and no direction. Surely this is no way to live. It will take sometime for us to reverse this trend, but reverse it we must!”
He urged vigilance and ended calling on Catholic faithful to “storm heaven for protection… Let us not lose hope, for our Christian faith ultimately ensures victory!”
Meanwhile, an umbrella group of local Christian communities has pledged to provide pastoral intervention to victims.
"We are especially mindful of the families which have lost loved ones, and we trust that they will sense the comforting and sustaining presence of God during this period."