As Bishop of the diocese of Bridgetown Reverend Jason Gordon gets ready to take up a new post, he is urging Barbadians to get back to traditional values, accusing the authorities of focusing more on profits and residents of creating an unsustainable lifestyle.
Gordon, who served as consecrated Bishop of Bridgetown and Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines for the past six years, has been elected Archbishop of Port of Spain. He is to be appointed by the end of this year.
During a media conference on Friday at his Jemott’s Layne, St Michael office to make the official announcement, Gordon encouraged residents not to lose hope despite the current economic and social circumstances facing the country.
However, he said it was time Barbadians get back to a value system based on traditional values where people are satisfied with what they have and live within their means.
“The waters have been rough, to quote a famous line. And with the rough waters it is very easy to lose both hope and a sense of a destination. And it is my fear that at this time Barbados is losing focus on both,” warned Gordon.
“The problem is not a problem that the political parties can solve in the first instance. It is a much deeper societal problem that we have come to. I have said it in many different ways, that we had some old-time values that the grandmothers used to pass on to the children [but] we threw out baby and bath water together,” he said.
The cleric said Barbadians seemed to have replaced traditional values with a new set of “liberal capitalist model” where it was now “about get rich [quick] or die trying”.
“That rugged liberal capitalist model has really infected the sole of this nation and has created great grief among our people,” he said.
Pointing out that past political leaders Errol Barrow and Tom Adams “both put development of people ahead of the profits of companies”, Gordon said the same could not be said about recent and current political leaders.
“We have now put the profits of the companies ahead of the development of people and both the parties that founded this nation understood people first profit second and the whole economy is in the service of the people. We have reversed it and we have gone to a value system that is really at the heart of the problems that we are facing,” he said, pointing out that there were no quick fixes.
The Roman Catholic bishop said what was needed was a change in values.
“I would ask that Barbados think deeply about the values your grandmother had, how she is cooking a pot without barely anything and a neighbour comes and they are getting some to share . . . the frugal means she was able to do with very little and produce children that were excellent and outstanding and never want a brand name and yet they had a deep sense of identity and security in themselves.
“We have given our children far too much, which has put us into debt and which has created a lifestyle that we can’t sustain in a small part of the world like the Caribbean. This is not just Barbados, it is the whole Caribbean that is going in this direction. So, I would ask again that we reconsider the values that we have received from our grandmothers and great grandmothers,” he said.
Monsignor Vincent Blackett described Gordon’s departure as a bittersweet one, saying the news of his appointment as archbishop came as a shock since the local diocese was getting used to the idea of him being in Bridgetown “forever”.
“It is a sweet sorrow not because you are going, but sweet because the Holy Father saw it fit to elevate you and make you Archbishop of Port of Spain, and sorrow because we are now getting used to you in many ways in this diocese of Bridgetown,” said Blackett.
Gordon will replace Archbishop Joseph Harris who resigned earlier this year. Gordon will become the 11th Archbishop of Port of Spain with that archdiocese having responsibility for five dioceses or provinces – Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, Curacao, and Suriname.