“I said: ‘Oh, my Lord! What on earth is going on here?”
The words of senior Roman Catholic cleric, Monsignor Vincent Blackett, as he recalled his immediate reaction on seeing panicked mourners rushing away from a burial service he was conducting earlier this week, after a gun was discovered on the ground near the grave.
“I was still at the graveside when I saw the scampering,” Monsignor Vincent told Barbados TODAY in an interview today. “Someone said there was a gun on the ground and I saw people chasing a couple of young men. This incident occurred when I was conducting the prayers. I felt badly for the family because they were burying one of their members.”
Police have launched an investigation into the incident after a video showing the gun on the ground and mourners rushing from the graveside, went into in circulation via social media. The funeral service was for City teenager Adrianna Sobers who was killed in a motor vehicle accident earlier this month.
Noting that from reports the gun apparently dropped while a young woman was assisting in burying the deceased, Monsignor Vincent lamented that women, who were generally seen as culture bearers, were now seen as leaders of a counter culture.
“Today’s women seem to have a special liking for rude boys. A youngster goes up to prison and young women seem quite happy to visit him as if he is at a hotel. We have to change that counter culture,” the senior Catholic cleric said.
Recalling that he was the officiating priest at another funeral where he had to flee from the graveside after a disturbance broke out, Monsignor Vincent lamented that increasingly today churches were seeing many young people who have “absolutely no respect or show any reverence for the dead”.
He noted they came into the cemetery while the committal of the body was taking place and even though the priest asked them to desist from speaking, they continued.
Monsignor Vincent, who is Vicar-General of the Bridgetown Diocese, said such rowdy behaviour is pushing St Patrick’s Cathedral, where he is administrator, towards rethinking a longstanding policy on facilitating funerals for non-Catholics, especially if the services were likely to attract persons associated with such behaviour.
Monsignor Vincent said in such cases the church also may have consider returning to its former practice of seeking the assistance of the Royal Barbados Police Force to maintain order.
Noting that some denominations on the island did not facilitate funerals for non-members, Monsignor Vincent explained why the Catholic Church was accommodating. “I think it is a holy and wholesome practice to offer prayers for the deceased,” he said.
He added: “So when a family comes to me and tells me that one of their members has passed away and they would like a service, I try not to refuse them. I usually accede to the request even though the deceased may not have been a practising Catholic or even a Christian.”