When it was announced that a Commission would be formed to look at public morality, there were a number of questions as to the committee’s mandate and jurisdiction. Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber who will head the committee, clarified what the commission is about.
“I will say that I was not in the initial meeting between the Prime Minister, The Government and The Churches but the main concern coming from the Churches in that meeting and in the Friday meeting was that the Church felt it could play a greater role in advising the government in giving its views on certain things not limited to any one area but you will understand that given the Chief Justice’s ruling and given some of the noise that was in the air at this time that this had to be one of the areas that they saw to be needed first on the agenda of this entity that has been referred to as the Morality Commission that I choose to term in the interim as the Church State Commission. That body as I understand it is aimed at merely continuing dialogue. To make sure that the dialogue between the Church and the State is continuous and that the Church always has a conduit to give the government what its views are on varying issues including morality.”
Deputy Prime Minister Faber also spoke about the influence the Commission would have over public morality issues.
“How much influence would you say the church would have in governing or regulating issues that they perceive have to do with morality?”
“Well that is another point that I am hoping will come up in our September 26th meeting with the churches because while it is we are yet to work out the terms of reference for the commission and while it is we have to work out the composition it doesn’t matter what the composition is and I am hoping that all will understand that while we are engaging the major stakeholder in the church in this way it cannot mean, not even if all of us would have wanted it that way, it cannot mean that that will be the body that will be the end it all in terms of policy making and decision making for this country, that job is reserved for the cabinet.”
Faber stated that after a meeting with Caleb Orozco, this morning, he agreed that minorities should also have a commission to represent them in government matters.
“It is my personal view that in fact if we are to make decisions for all the citizenry of this country that if we are going to give an opportunity for the church to have that kind of church state commission that will allow for that dialogue to flow then we should also give that opportunity, the church is a much larger stakeholder group and so there might be the need for more consultations because there are so many branches of the church but in their instance the need might not be there to meet, I have no idea how regularly this proposed commission would meet but I said to Caleb this morning that I don’t see a problem with meeting once or twice a year depending on what the agenda is of those minority bodies for them to merely say to the government this is how we are feeling and this is what we want you to do as our government.”
The first meeting between the Deputy Prime Minister and Church leaders will be held on September 26.