Further to my previous letter
STAR FM RADIO: The ULP owned radio station news release. December 5, 2013. Dr Gonsalves says that he will be leaving the state on December 16th for a state visit to Rome to visit Pope Francis. He said that he hopes to raise a number of issues with the Pope during discussions with him.
VATICAN RADIO: Vatican Radio said Pope Francis received the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Everard Gonsalves, who subsequently went on to meet with the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States. The colloquial [informal] discussions focused on matters of common interest such as the defence of life and the family, education and inter-religious dialogue. And mention was made of various issues regarding the countries in the area and collaboration within the ambit of regional organizations.
THE ROME SENTINEL: The newspaper of the Vatican confirmed the following,
“Pope Francis met with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines during a private audience at the Vatican Dec. 19”.
It was not a state visit, it was a private audience. What is more, Gonsalves, according to the Vatican, only discussed the following. So why the hype, why cloak an audience as a state visit?
1. “Defence of life and the family [abortion and the Catholic view]
2. “Education and inter-religious dialogue” ["Nostra Aetate" fostering of inter-religious dialogue from "a common dedication to the truth, a common vision of the dignity of the human person and, ultimately, the person and message of Christ which gives the Institution its distinctive character" ("Ex Corde Ecclesiae," 21).]
3. “Mention of various issues regarding the countries in the area and collaboration within the ambit of regional organizations“. [Not a matter of discussing SVG but of discussing countries such as Syria and Palestine.]
None of the matters discussed are a matter of state for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. They are all matters that could of been handled by correspondence, or simply by our Vatican Ambassador Mr Said, who after all is a Syrian. Mr Said was there at the audience, so why did he not go on his own. In fact, there were two SVG ambassadors there, so why did they need the support of Gonsalves and his extended family, his mother in law and all. [Perhaps we should check his baggage to see if he took the kitchen sink]
Therefore I believe there was absolutely no need at all for Gonsalves and his family to visit the Pope except as a personal choice. After all we are not a Catholic state, so whatever Catholic matters he discussed are for his own account. There are many very nice people in SVG who are Catholics, I mean no offence to them, and deeply respect them.
When going on such visits you really do not need to cart your family with you. If you make such a choice it can only mean that it is a family outing.
Mr Gonsalves, I call on you to pay or repay for this trip in full, I cannot believe it was a state visit in any way shape or form.
It would be most interesting for comments to be made here by Vincentians on this matter.