An unwed role model who’s pregnant

What  took place

Former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam pregnancy is causing a brouhaha in her native country, Trinidad. Firstly she’s unmarried, the there is speculation about who’s the father and to crown it all,  Fitzwilliams chose to announce her pregnancy while addressing students of Corpus Christi College, a Catholic School.

Fitzwilliams, who is seen as a role model and, according to the Jamaica Observer, the baby’s father is investment banker Dr. David Panton. A former Opposition Senator (Jamaica Labour Party), he was married to former Miss Jamaica/ Miss World 1993 Lisa Hanna and they have a four-year-old son. Hanna and Panton have been separated for the past two years.

Panton retired from the Jamaican Senate in 2004 and now lives in Atlanta, where he is vice president at the Atlanta offices of Mellon Ventures.

Both Minister of Education Hazel Manning and former President of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Ellis Clarke, patron of the Corpus Christi College, whose students were the first to learn of Wendy’s pregnancy, said that her decision to make that announcement was very unfortunate.

In the wake of the announcement, Fitzwilliam has been criticised, mainly because of her out of wedlock pregnancy, especially since she is seen as a role model to the country’s youths. The school also received a number of calls condemning Fitzwilliam’s choice of location to share her news.

Manning told Newsday yesterday she had not heard the criticisms, but “think its a little bit unfortunate that she used the school to make the announcement, since it was made to girls, and their minds are impressionable.”

However, Sir Ellis told Newsday that while Fitzwilliam was a “grown woman and entitled to her own point of view, it was most unfortunate to choose Corpus Christi College to make her announcement.

“What she had done is deliberate (having sex before marriage) and is diametrical to the principles of the college,” he added.

The former Miss Universe said she needed the right environment to make the announcement, and felt the series was the right forum because it was about sharing life experiences with the youths. She said her pregnancy was her greatest achievement. Sir Ellis pointed out that the college was Catholic and encourages “only such behaviour only in accordance with the Catholic doctrine, and certainly sex outside of marriage is not one of them.”

Acknowledging that girls may stray because they are human, he said the school will certainly object to such a thing occurring to one of its students. He said pregnancy out of marriage happens, but that did not mean it is sanctioned.

He said no one should leave any impression, however slight, on the girls “that they could do the same and there will be no fault in it.”

Sir Ellis also said, “It was extremely unfortunate that a role model, whoever he or she is, could behave in a particular manner. But it does not mean one should deduce from that, that anybody is free to make a decision that could be abhorrent.”

Fitzwilliam told the students that the choice was hers to get pregnant and she was no longer a teenager but a 33-year-old professional who was “not advocating my position for everyone, but I am very happy.”

What’s next

In the wake of statements by former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam that she is pregnant and unwed, during a recent speech at the Corpus Christi College, the Catholic Education Board of Management will be releasing a handbook entitled “Guidelines for Speakers at Catholic Schools.”  Fitzwilliam revealed that she was expecting her first child and that marriage was not in the foreseeable future.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Edward Gilbert , while not referring to Fitzwilliam specifically, stated in a release: “The leadership of a Catholic School is not always aware of the content of any speaker’s address prior to its delivery to the students.”
The Archbishop said that Catholic schools communicate “the teaching of the Church on faith and morals not only through teaching but also by witness”. He added that the Church is aware that its teachings are against social trends yet the church continues to struggle against the trends as it tries to be faithful to its mission of education/formation.”