Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 28th 2015 Contents RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
His job is not only demanding but quite
challenging. After all, he leads 63 parishes
Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph
Everand Harris has overcome many trying
circumstances since assuming the post
four years ago. Most of them have been
ill health. But that has not deterred him
from carrying out his responsibilities.
He s the second Trinidadian to assume
the position of archbishop. The first was
Anthony Pantin who served from 1968 to
"It has been exciting and very tiring.
For one reason or another, my health has
not the been the best over those four years,"
He joked that before he became arch-
bishop, he was never sick.
Harris has battled with prostate cancer
(which was detected in its early stages),
internal bleeding and blood clots in his
But as he stood atop the staircase with
his towering figure at Archbishop House
in Port-of-Spain, Harris looked strong
He descended the stairs with such ease.
The 73-year-old praised the priests and
laity for their overwhelming support.
"Being archbishop is great. The priests
have supported me very much. I don t
have difficulty with most of them. The
laity also supports me. But it is still very
He said the Catholic following had
improved and this was as a result of the
(Pope) "Francis effect."
"There has been a resurgence and that s
because of the man he is," Harris said.
Death penalty is wrong
On resuming the death penalty in T&T,
Harris held firmly to his opinion---no.
"I always tell people that I am totally
against the death penalty. I tell people all
the time that violence breeds violence,"
There were many types of violence, he
added. He said it was "violent" when a
person goes to hospital and cannot get
attention or treatment.
"That is violent, yet we are surprised
when people are murdering each other all
He said it would always be wrong and
nobody has shown him that hanging was
"I really don t think we should be asso-
ciated with such barbarity."
He said this had always been a point of
contention between him and governments.
"I have always said no to hanging."
Harris said he believed the country was
already down a slippery slope and called
on the Government to reverse it. He said
there was plenty to be done and believed
the country had the capacity to do it.
"The onus is on everyone."
Money and materialism
Disappointed that society was driven
by materialism, Harris called for people
to rethink their purpose and what it meant
to be human.
Harris said a culture existed that focused
only on self---"self-gratification and self-
"Anytime money becomes a God, you
lose your compassion."
Saying professionals like doctors,
lawyers, engineers were the most sought
after careers, Harris having titles behind
one s name was taking over.
He lamented that in the remote com-
munity of Matelot there were no doctors
available to treat the sick and elderly.
"We are a people who love to put titles
behind our names, but does it make you
a better person?"
"How many lawyers you see helping the
poor? The oath they read means nothing
for most of them."
He said it was impossible for a poor
person to hire a lawyer to defend him.
Money and fame, he said were what
"Degrees and titles do not make you, it
is much more than that. Ask yourselves
what does it mean to be human," he said.
Lack of priests
Noting the decrease in the number of
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40% off all
priests entering the priesthood, Harris said it was
not necessarily a bad thing, since the laity was now
more involved in running the church.
Recalling when he served as rector of the seminary
up to 1999, he said there were 28 students from
throughout the Caribbean, nine years later, there
were five students.
"That is when we had to close it down. We closed
it because we couldn t keep it open for five people
and so we sent our seminarians to the Dominican
Republic, which wasn t a bad thing."
But Harris said since becoming archbishop, he
had noticed that those who ve entered the priest-
hood were all "second-career people."
Unlike himself, who entered when he was 18, he
said nowadays people were entering around the
ages of 28-30 .
"So it s later on in life when a lot of them have
finished university...they have their careers and
then they make an option for priesthood.
"That means numbers are smaller but you get
people who know what they want because they ve
gone out there and studied their work."
Asked what contributed to the decrease and hes-
itancy, he said it was cultural and familial.
He said: "I think it s a cultural problem. I don t
know if it as much boys are shying away, although
that is part, but I think parents have a lot to do
"There are two things, the culture in which we
live is not a culture that values stability. You see
it in young people where they move from one job
to the next and the next.
"They re always searching for greener grass, more
money, better pay and better conditions.
"They re always looking for something else and
that is the culture and it is therefore difficult to
tell a young man that you are entering a profession
where the possibilities of advancement are relatively
few...only one person could be bishop," he laughed.
"The pay is not that good, the comfort is not
something that we have too much of and we live
pretty simple lifestyles. Being a priest is not about
self at all."
penalty is wrong
I always tell
people that I am
totally against the
death penalty. I tell
people all the time that
violence breeds violence.
I have always said no to
Harris believed the
country was already
down a slippery slope
and called on the
Government to reverse
it. He said there was
plenty to be done and
believed the country had
to do it. The
onus is on
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