Fri | Jun 5, 2020

COVID-19 a call for reflection, says Archbishop Gregory

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:19 AM

The Most Rev Howard Gregory.
The Most Rev Howard Gregory.

The Most Rev Howard Gregory, Anglican archbishop of the West Indies and bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, says that the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, presents an inescapable call for citizens to reflect on how their life and that of the Jamaican society are structured and how this impacts the life of the most vulnerable among us.

Speaking on March 22 on the diocese’s weekly radio programme ‘Think on These Things’, Gregory said: “A focus on the most vulnerable in our society at this time, primarily those whose economic survival is a day-to-day challenge, must lead us to face the fact that every day, for some of our people, is a ‘coronavirus day’. They live on the edge.”

He noted that the virus had levelled the society to the point where, like the vulnerable, everyone now lived on the edge.

But, while it is easy to succumb to anxiety, panic, and despair, the archbishop said that experiences of this nature are a regular feature in the biblical stories of people of faith and their relationship with God. He highlighted the response of the prophet Joel when a locust plague threatened the existence of his society, and he suggested that Joel’s call for reflection and repentance was equally relevant now if the society was not to “return to business as usual when the virus is gone”.

Joel’s rallying of the people to address their calamity through communal engagement was another important lesson, Gregory said. “Our ability to deal with the coronavirus cannot be marked by individualism, selfishness, and the indiscipline which has now characterised much of our national life … . We, as citizens, must respond with a collective spirit.”

The archbishop said that having learnt from the coronavirus experience that “the condition of each impacts the welfare of the many, this pandemic [should] be turned into an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of love and service which bind individuals, communities, and nations together”.