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Jun 9, 2017

Churches Want Role in Solving Violence in Belize

Roosevelt Papouloute

While the rate has slowed down of late, especially in Belize City, crime and especially murder remains an issue at the forefront of the national consciousness. Valiant efforts are being made by members of the gang element, especially on Southside, to reduce friction leading to deadly disputes and taking advantage of means of mediation and community interaction led by the Police Department. As centers of leadership in Belize, do the churches have a place in the discussion? We asked two prominent church leaders, Bishop Philip Wright of the Anglican Diocese and Reverend Roosevelt Papouloute of the Belize Council of Churches and Methodist mission, for their observations.

 

Rev. Roosevelt Papouloute, President, Belize Council of Churches

“I believe a couple of years ago there was a process in which we were invited and were engaged fully; I believe at some point there was a retreat and there were consultations in which we participated and I believe our counsel and our advice and our contributions were welcomed, and we are ready to be part of the process because the situation of crime and violence in the land affects every one of us: our parishioners, our students who go to our schools; our members; our activities. So we would be willing to support any process, any effort that would reduce – and if possible eliminate – the whole matter of crime and violence in our City and in our land.”

 

Philip Wright

Bishop Philip Wright, Anglican Diocese

“Our members in general do get involved; and are involved in a lot of the initiatives you see around, whether or not they come sanctioned by the official Church, and they make known  to me personally and to others what is going on. I think as a pastor, though – may I say this – that our greatest interaction, if you will, with the crime situation unfortunately, and you would probably know this – that St. John’s Cathedral seems to at times bury an unusual number of these – just last week, I think, we laid to rest two of the fellows that were gunned down, murdered. And when you engage the family in the process of preparing for the funeral, you sometimes really gain insight into how this crime situation is affecting individuals and affecting families. The solution? I just feel we have to engage individuals as individuals; I think these fellows [are] human beings at the end of the day; they are children of God, like everybody else; and as far as the Church is concerned, it has to continue to reach out to them, and continue to somehow convince them that there are other ways to solve some of the issues they are facing.”

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