Bim bigger than politicians

Archbishop advises elected representatives to maintain connections with the people

After almost 400 years of parliamentary democracy, Archbishop Dr John Holder found need to advise elected politicians on maintaining connection with the people who must be involved more than once every five years. 

The Archbishop of the West Indies took the occasion of the 375th anniversary church service of the Barbados Parliament to lecture the country’s MPs on their responsibility to the people, history and future while reminding they were not bigger than Barbados.

“You need sometimes to move beyond the restrictions of party and take the necessary political risk for the country,” he yesterday told a St Mary’s Church congregation that included Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other parliamentarians.

Holder, who is also Bishop of Barbados, added: “You need sometimes to put the next elections out of your minds and think country instead of party. Just remember that this country is far bigger than all of the parliamentarians and all of the members of the political parties put together.”

Prior to the service, there was a procession of Members of Parliament and senators, along with officials of both chambers, from Parliament to St Mary’s Church.

Members of Parliament in the procession from Parliament to St Mary’s Church yesterday.
Members of Parliament in the procession from Parliament to St Mary’s Church yesterday.

Continuing his counsel on the way forward for the nation’s elected representatives, Holder said: “Do not allow these celebrations to pass without engaging in some critical reflection on your role as parliamentarians as you manage the affairs of this country in these difficult times, and try to carve out a way forward.

“Protect and guard the legacy of parliamentary representation. You have inherited what others have laboured for and have died for. You have stepped into a stream that goes back some 375 years. There is a sacred legacy here.”

He said that the welfare of people should be at the heart of any political arrangement of society, and “we must keep working constantly to remove and correct what may threaten this process. Whatever may be the limitations of our parliamentary system, we have to make it work for us”.

“There is no system –– political, religious or otherwise created and managed by frail sinful, mortal humanity, with all the limitations –– that can meet all the needs and all the expectations for those for whom it ought to be working.”

He weighed in on disappointments voiced by the electorate following their vote, based on promises of politicians

“We are to be constantly on our guard against reducing participation in our parliamentary democratic process . . . [to] five minutes in a polling booth, every five years.

“There must therefore be a strong and vibrant thread of continuity that is grounded in the welfare and the well-being of those who exercise their God-given right in that precious space.

“We must guard against the creeping in of any disconnect between what happens before, what happens on, and what happens after polling day.”

Further, Holder implored: “It is your responsibility not to allow the promises you make at a election time and the challenges you face as parliamentarians, as members of Government and as members of the Opposition, to allow these to disconnect from the expectations of the people.

“We must ensure that we do not treat polling day as the end of a process when it is only the start,” he said.


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