Come December 27, the Roman Catholic faithful in this country will have a new shepherd to lead them.
Fr Charles Jason Gordon, the present Bishop of Bridgetown and Antigua, was announced yesterday as the Archbishop-elect of Port of Spain.
The news was announced at a press conference by retiring Archbishop Joseph Harris at Archbishop’s House in Port of Spain. Gordon, a Trinidadian, is 58.
He said he intends to restore confidence in the Port of Spain Archdiocese and build a civilisation of love, which is one of the key challenges facing the Catholic church in TT. In order to properly address issues of crime and corruption, he said, the church must focus its efforts on restoring confidence and discipleship.
“The two main challenges facing the church today are to first help its people and restore confidence to give themselves to God, what our Holy Father (Pope Francis) calls missionary discipleship,” Gordon said.
“Without getting people to come to this deepening discipleship, we cannot face the second issue, which is the turbulence this nation faces with the high crime, high levels of corruption and high levels of discord in the public arena. The greatest challenge is to love God with everything, to love thy neighbour as themselves and to build a civilisation of love.”
Outgoing Archbishop Harris expressed satisfaction with Gordon’s appointment and welcomed him back to the diocese. Gordon said he wanted to carry on the good work started by at least three of his predecessors: Archbishop Anthony Pantin (TT’s first local-born archbishop), Archbishop Edward Gilbert and Archbishop Harris.
“I stand on the shoulders of these three giants and I intend to build on the work they started,” he said.
Harris said while the task ahead for Gordon is a challenging one, he urged his replacement to enjoy his service. Asked what plans he has for retirement, Harris laughed. “I intend to rest and reconnect with relatives.” He said while he was pleased with the work done during his tenure as archbishop, the years have been exhausting. “Six years running this diocese has left its toll on an old man,” he said.
The rather quiet, low-key running of the Bridgetown diocese changed when in March 2016, Fr Gordon made headlines there and across the region when he was charged with assaulting 41-year-old altar server Junior Blackman. Gordon appeared in court, was granted bail and told to return after pleading not guilty.
The case was dismissed by Magistrate Kristie Cuffie-Sargeant in July that year, when, according to a report in the St Lucia Times, Blackman said he was no longer interested in pursuing the matter. Newsday tried to contact Gordon for comment on the matter yesterday but was told he was in meetings.
Bishop Charles Jason Gordon, 58, is the new Archbishop of Port of Spain.
He replaces Archbishop Joseph Harris as the head of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in TT. Harris resigned in March when he turned 75.
Gordon becomes the third Trinidadian to lead the local Catholic church, following Harris and the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin.
Gordon is currently Bishop of Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingstown, St Vincent.