THE church's role in politics is to be encouraged in the context of political policy formulation, says the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Petero Mataca.
In the church's submission to the Constitution Commission on Monday, Archbishop Mataca said while the church had to be prophetic, speaking for God, it needed not be directly involved in the political sphere to fulfil this role.
He said as a church, it must continue to fulfil its prophetic role to herald the ethical values that enriched a nation and all nation-building processes.
"The church is called to be bold and forthright, constructive and innovative in its approaches and must maintain a healthy distance from the sphere of political governance," Archbishop Mataca said.
He noted an address by Pope Benedict XVI made to the US Catholic Bishops' annual visit to the Vatican, who said: "The church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of church and State cannot be taken to mean that the church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values, which will shape the future of the nation."
"The church has to be salt and light in what is so often a corrupt environment, to bring light and help promote lasting peace," Archbishop Mataca said.
"However, the role of religion is not to prescribe in technical terms the norms for civil governance, it is to guide the making of just and responsible decisions."