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.