Dear Father Rochard

The unedited version…

I feel like bombing a church
Now that I know the preacher is lying

Talking Blue, Bob Marley

Dear Father Rochard,

If I were a Catholic maybe I might be more predisposed to understanding. Maybe I would shrug off the shock of your incomprehensible statement.
Thank Jah I’m not a Catholic. I don’t have to turn my cheek. I will not leave you to God. I want you to have some kind of judgment here on earth.
And because I’m not a Catholic I don’t have a problem to say to you that you need to check yourself. And because I am not a subscriber to this fiction of a middle class white Christ poster boy for all that is right wing and rich I don’t have a problem calling a spade a spade and tata, tata. What you said was so reprehensible that I really can’t see how your vengeful God could resist smiting you.
So much for the church being a sanctuary. So much for all being welcome in the house of the Lord.
Pretty soon, church is going to get like certain night clubs where Africans and Indians are made to line up and beg to get in.
I guess there’s no real difference between the two. Churches and night clubs both have strict codes, to which rich people don’t necessarily have to abide.
Tell me Father Rochard, do you call out the names of all the men in your congregation who cheat on their wives? Do you know the names of the upstanding business people who exploit their staff? Do you publicly boof all the three and four car families?
Do you know the names of the young women who are rich enough to afford safe abortions and then come to the church to pray for their salvation? Do you know the names of those women who happen to miss out certain people when they’re making the sign of peace? Do you also call their names out in your church? And say that they are no longer welcome?
I think the saddest thing about what you said, Father Rochard is that you are in a unique place to stem the tide of selfishness that has taken over Trinidad and Tobago.
Instead of being a revolutionary Christ, you are Herod the murderer, you are Pontius Pilate the executioner. You echo the sentiments of the mob and start pelting stones even before the sentence is passed. You betray the ones you are charged to protect, love and serve. Christ should sue you for misrepresentation.
What your statement and the fact that you still have a job proves is what I’ve suspected for a long time. That the church, especially in this post-colonial incarnation is no place for challenging a system that has consistently undermined the upliftment of the whole. The empowerment of all. Holy mother church has failed us as much as you have failed to be a source of solace for a man who witnessed the murder of his friends.
Liberation theologist Paulo Freire once said “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”
Priests like you think that you’re doing something to save your eternal soul by giving a man a meal twice a week.
Priests like you convince people like me that religion really is the biggest farce ever perpetrated on poor people whether they are here in Trinidad or on the side of a mountain in South America or in a village in remotest Africa.
And I know you won’t apologise, because you don’t have to.
And I know I’m just a little heathen, but I hope that you never have to experience the terror that man must feel. That you never have to experience half of the terrible things that people in Trinidad and Tobago are living with. Everyday. Every moment. That maybe you will understand that church is not some chance to fill your coffers. That people like my grandmother sought refuge in the walls of churches like yours. That God is more than your four walls and life is more than protecting against those who don’t live like you, or think like you or love like you.
And we’ll all be stunned for a few days and forget this as we try to sift through all the other folly that fills our lives.
The sad thing is that you’ve given a legitimate voice to the ugliness that most, if not all of us carry in our hearts every day for fellow Trinidadians. Luckily for you, you have the opportunity and the callousness to speak your truths. Your lack of compassion is shameful but not surprising. Luckily for you, your church will protect you, like it protects your colleagues who molest their acolytes. I hope that man you’ve publicly ostracized is lucky like you.

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