I am absolutely delighted to offer hearty congratulations to a fellow countryman, Father Neil Sebastian Scantlebury, on his elevation today to the position of Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgetown.
That he is the first Barbadian to do so in the near 400-year existence of the Catholic Church in Barbados, and that it has occurred in the same year that we are moving to establish our nation as a Republic makes this occasion even more memorable and significant. Today, we have come a long way!
While we have long-established the principle of separation of Church and State, there can be no denying that the Church continues to play a most important role in the maintenance of the fabric that is so necessary for a strong and stable society.
Indeed, when I met with Bishop Scantlebury recently at Ilaro Court, there was not a shred of doubt in my mind that his Barbadianness, his humility, his devotion to pastoral duties, and his recognition that we are not going to overcome many of the social challenges we now face without the return of a national approach to the instilling of values in our people, convinced me that he is the right man for the job.
The Government of Barbados looks forward to working with Bishop Scantlebury and his Catholic family, and indeed the rest of the ecumenical community in Barbados in a new national outreach targeted primarily at our youth, but with the intent of capturing entire families as we seek to transform our society.
I wish Bishop Scantlebury a long, healthy and successful stint as head of the local Roman Catholic community.