“We are in mourning. I am sad. Perturbed. Flabbergasted.”
This was how former dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Canon Knolly Clarke, reacted yesterday to the revealing photographs of models in bathing suits walking down the aisle at the cathedral during a fashion show on Sunday night as part of Style Week, Port of Spain.
He said Anglican Bishop Reverend Claude Berkley might have to convene an emergency meeting and quickly apologise to the Anglican faithful and the country. Several efforts by the Express to contact Berkley yesterday were unsuccessful.
Clarke is also concerned about the local Anglican Church incurring the wrath of Jamaican Archbishop Alfred Reid.
The Anglican Cathedral is an historical landmark in the city on Abercromby Street, and people who traverse the city often enjoy the clock chiming at each hour. It is where traditionally a service is held to mark the opening of the law term every year.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Clarke said: “I am dumbfounded. I got a number of calls. My son said he had to defend me. I am Dean Emeritus. I am no longer on the cabinet but the Anglican Church is dear to me.”
Clarke, who was attending a service at New Grant, Princes Town, said he had no thorough knowledge of the “incident”.
Asked about Berkley’s reaction, Clarke said: “We tried to find him. I know he is in Tobago. He was attending something with the youth. I can’t understand what happened. It has affected the whole church. I don’t know what to say.
“It is serious. Bishop would have to come out and apologise to the Anglican faithful and the country. He would have to meet with the people who allowed the fashion show to take place there. There is a caucus in the church. He would have to meet with them quickly. People are concerned.
“People from all walks of life respect the Anglican Church. People from all religions respect the church. They are looking on at what is happening. This should not be happening when we are about to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is very special to Anglicans.
“I know they are raising money for the restoration of the church. I have told them not to have events in the church,” added Clarke.
The Anglican church is raising $76 million to restore the church following damage to the building during the 2018 earthquake.
Clarke said if he were dean, he would treat the incident as “serious”.
“I don’t know how that was allowed to happen. I can’t excuse it. People have to be called to give account of their stewardship. I hope the Archbishop does not have to get involved. People in Jamaica don’t make joke with church matters.”
Clarke said he was asking the country “to pray for us at this time”.
An upset member of the Anglican Church who was once close to Berkley, told the Express yesterday the models were in front of the altar.
“They are in front of the altar where people have to bow their heads and pray. Berkley has a legacy. He should be careful of the people around him. He should look at people who are tampering with the church’s finances also. I have warned him about two women. Bishop’s lack of astuteness is allowing a lot of folly to take place. God bless Bishop and the Anglican Church.”
Also reacting negatively yesterday was Roman Catholic Archbishop Fr Jason Gordon who said: “I woke up in Moruga. I got about six calls. Many times people offer to do good things. And you don’t check out well enough and deeply. We need to check details. You find yourself in a place where you are compromised. If you don’t check it properly, you might find yourself with repercussions that you did not foresee. The details are so important to check. It is a wake-up call for all of us that we have to be careful with the sacred.”
Gordon added: “Sometimes we don’t see the slow erosion. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water, and, if you turn up the heat, it will slowly but surely die. You don’t see you brought something secular into a sacred place. It now begs the question ‘how are we keeping our sacred places scared?’ It is a wake-up call for all of us.”