A man smokes a marijuana cigarette in St. Vincent. (IWN file photo)

Another Catholic cleric has spoken against the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Monsignor Mike Stewart’s comments in a recent iWitness News interview came on the topic as new Bishop of the Diocese of Kingstown, Gerard County, was asked, ahead of his ordination, his views on the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves — a Catholic – has proposed to CARICOM that it member states consider decriminalising marijuana for medicinal purposes.

County, a Trinidadian, noting that he had returned to the region after 19 years in Mexico, deferred to Stewart — a Vincentian.

Stewart noted to iWitness News that the issue of marijuana and its usage have been in discussion for a while. He further pointed out that in some parts of the United States, there has been legislation to this effect.

“The church has a responsibility to speak out on issues which affect the human person. And I speak now as an individual theologian in the church: Whatever destroys or makes for the destruction of the human person, cannot be equated for the good,” Stewart told iWitness News.

“Whether we accept that marijuana can be used for medical purposes or not, making marijuana legal just makes for the destruction of many more. I live in the town, I live at the Cathedral and there are a number of young people who are walking our streets because of they have been users of one drug or the other, marijuana included, and they end up with psychosis.

“We cannot uphold something as good that destroys human life,” Stewart said.

Monsignor Mike Stewart. (IWN photo)
Monsignor Mike Stewart. (IWN photo)

Asked why the church did not comment at the height of the discussion about decriminalising marijuana for medicinal purposes, Stewart told iWitness News:

“I don’t think the church has been totally silent. Of course, as you know, Bishop Gordon has commented. But, the church, because we are a small society and because we have various levels of organisation in the church, when the church speaks, for example, when the Bishop speaks, the Bishop not only speaks at the Bishop of Kingstown… He has to be sure that he is speaking as a bishop of the universal church. And, therefore, statements, pronouncements, anything he makes, influences, affects the entire body.”

Stewart said that sometimes the church is “tardy” in speaking.

“… and that is because we do not have all the fact, all the information, and, therefore, we may be wary of making certain moral statements, but it is necessary that when there are issues of social concern, that the church also addresses it.”

County replaced Bishop Jason Gordon, who was previously Bishop of Barbados and St. Vincent, but now holds only the Barbados portfolio.

Before demitting office as Bishop of Kingstown, Gordon, when asked, spoke against the decriminalisation of marijuana.