Off Beat News

Forgive us our sin

Bish­op of the An­gli­can Dio­cese of T&T Rev Claude Berkley has ‘strong­ly con­demned’ the de­pic­tion of scant­i­ly-clad mod­els in the Trin­i­ty Cathe­dral over the past week­end, say­ing it was out of or­der.

He has is­sued a pub­lic apol­o­gy to the An­gli­can com­mu­ni­ty, all re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions, faith groups and the gen­er­al pub­lic over the em­bar­rass­ing three-night fash­ion show host­ed by Style­week Port-of-Spain.

“On this oc­ca­sion, we clear­ly missed the mark and we are deeply sor­ry! We, there­fore, seek your for­give­ness as we move for­ward in pro­claim­ing the good news of the King­dom of God,” he said.

“In­deed, the de­pic­tion of scant­i­ly clad mod­els parad­ing along the aisle of the church of­fend­ed in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive sen­si­bil­i­ties lo­cal­ly and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly. Let me state cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly that such a pa­rade is com­plete­ly out of or­der, in­ap­pro­pri­ate and is strong­ly con­demned. Our church has host­ed fash­ion shows in the past and we have nev­er come to this sad de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of re­spect and mod­esty,” he said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

Bish­op Berkley, who has head­ed the lo­cal dio­cese since 2011, chas­tised those who rep­re­sent­ed the An­gli­can church at the event for not stop­ping it when guide­lines were breached.

“At the first sight of this de­vi­a­tion, the show should have been shut down. This has been a bla­tant breach of the guide­lines and a breach of trust, to the detri­ment of the church and its com­mu­ni­ty. We must take full re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for the lax­i­ty in reg­u­lat­ing the use of the church’s space. The church ad­vo­cates and ex­horts its mem­bers to mod­esty in dress and de­port­ment, and it is a di­rect con­tra­dic­tion and af­front, that this dis­play of im­mod­esty took place,” he said.

He has promised an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the event and said ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures will be tak­en to en­sure it does not hap­pen again.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia af­ter is­su­ing the state­ment, Berkley said he “did not know the church was in the busi­ness of sell­ing souls for any giv­en pur­pose.”

Bish­op Berkley said he did not have any knowl­edge or in­for­ma­tion that the fash­ion show was be­ing host­ed to raise funds to help re­cov­er from the ef­fects of a pow­er­ful earth­quake in Au­gust last year.

He said if that dis­cus­sion was held, he was not a part of it and was not made aware of it.

Pressed on how he could not have known giv­en his au­thor­i­ty, Berkley said each parish in the An­gli­can sys­tem is se­mi-au­tonomous and can make its own de­ci­sions.

He said the vestry ex­am­ines things and make de­ci­sions and he would not be cog­nisant of what each parish’s guide­lines are to man­age whichev­er event they are deal­ing with.

Some might leave the church

Ad­mit­ting the fash­ion show did not on­ly hurt the im­age of the An­gli­can church but more so the hearts of mem­bers, Berkley said he ex­pects to see some peo­ple leave the church al­to­geth­er or just with­draw for some time.

How­ev­er, he be­lieves the pub­lic apol­o­gy was a first step in the right di­rec­tion to re­in­state trust and loy­al­ty among mem­bers.

“Peo­ple are com­fort­ed, at least this was not some­thing that was con­doned by the church and this is not what we’re about and what we will do,” he said.

He said the cler­gy is ex­pect­ed to meet soon to dis­cuss plans go­ing for­ward on how it will treat with mem­bers in their re­spec­tive con­gre­ga­tions.

Mean­while, the man­age­ment of Co­co Vel­vet In­ter­na­tion­al (CVI) has apol­o­gised to “the Bish­op, Dean and parish­ioners of the An­gli­can Dio­cese” for what they deem to be “gross in­sen­si­tiv­i­ty by the new fran­chise own­ers of Style­week Port-of-Spain”.

“While we re­spect the need for artis­tic free­dom on the part of fash­ion de­sign­ers to show­case their full col­lec­tions at a fash­ion week, we be­lieve overt­ly re­veal­ing looks should have been edit­ed by Style­week’s fash­ion di­rec­tor,” CVI said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

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