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An Unholy Delay

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Over two dozen Foreign Catholic priests and other religious workers who want to practice what they preach in Guyana are still in the line waiting for work permits to do the work of the Lord.

They are all waiting for the Government of Guyana more particularly the Minister of Home Affairs to bless them with the permits. Ever since the episode with the Church of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) where the Government detained and expelled several missionaries because they had no work permits, the Guyana Government has been moving tediously slowly on the granting of work permits to some religious bodies.

Both the Catholic and Anglican churches have been affected by the maximum administrative delay in the processing of permits leaving the priests to wander in the wilderness of uncertainty. Sources close to the Ministry of Home Affairs denied that it was sloth but rather the time that the processing actually takes if taken through the correct and proper stages.

In the past the Immigration department would allow priests and religious workers to automatically renew their duration of stay in the country but the Ministry found that this was not the correct procedure to follow. Instead the religious workers are required like every other foreigner here to apply for and wait until work permits are issued.

At least one priest from the Anglican Community had to wait until his permit to stay almost expired before any movement was taken on his application. Another priest from another denomination has been waiting for almost four years for his permit.

In terms of the Catholic priests, the Catholic Newspaper “The Catholic Standard” that was particularly vociferous during the previous administration 18 years ago has been quite silent for nearly the last two decades on real or perceived wrongs in the society.

In the meantime the Chinese have been assured that they would be given citizenship after 7 years and have been allocated work permits without delays. The Chinese government immediately after the announcement of citizenship donated 7 million US dollars to the Government of Guyana. Income for churches by the way is tax-free.

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