Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he expects some backlash for saying he sometimes gets the impression that some Catholics feel that their worship services are meetings of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
And while he is expecting some backlash, he is also expecting some support, saying, “a whole set ah catholic all over St. Vincent and the Grenadines will agree with me with that”.
Gonsalves gave his impression of the conduct of some members of his faith as he debated the budget last week.
The issue arose as he spoke about EC$16,000 of his own money that he had spent, when he was an opposition lawmaker, to buy land for a resource centre in North Central Windward, which he has been representing since 1994.
“I don’t want [to] toot my horn and as a good catholic, even though sometimes I get the impression that some people in the Catholic church think it is the NDP at prayer,” said Gonsalves, who told Parliament he no longer attends services at the Catholic church in Kingstown.
“I am an old Catholic so I can afford to talk my mind,” the 74-year-old politician said.
“And a whole set ah catholic all over St. Vincent and the Grenadines will agree with me with that. I don’t go back to church in Kingstown because at one time I thought was an NDP public meeting I was going to,” he said.
“I know I go geh criticism for this, but I don’t mind. I told the bishop that. Of course, I love my church in Colonarie – St. Joseph’s,” he said, referring to his home village, which is also part of North Central Windward.
Gonsalves also noted that other than the EC$20 that public servants had used to start the Zero Hunger Trust fund, the first monies that went into it was a month’s salary from him — over $9,000.
“Every year, I have agreed for five years, to give them a month of my salary; one-twelfth of my salary to the Zero Hunger Trust Fund,” he said of the initiative that helps to provide food and other assistance to indigent Vincentians.