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Fiji Time: 12:22 PM on Thursday 21 August

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Father Chong: Churches need to combat sexual violence

Luke Rawalai
Monday, January 28, 2013

PREACHING about the ills of sexual violence from the pulpit in our churches is not enough.

As well, the churches need to take an aggressive approach on the elimination of this social evil from our midst, says the new head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji.

Archbishop-elect Father Peter Loy Chong made the comment when asked about the church's view's about the increase in acts of sexual violence.

Father Chong said they needed to be inclusive in their awareness programs at the grassroots level because not everyone belonged to the church.

Father Chong said the church had failed to take on the issue with a front-on approach.

"We need to tackle the issue head on to ensure that sexual harassment and violence towards women and children are eradicated," Father Chong said.

"The church does not condone these acts and most of our women and children fall victim to these heinous crimes."

"The church has high regard for the sanctity of marriage — it is the recognition of a couple's ability to procreate and exchange intimacies, but not an open door for abuse," he said.

Father Chong said he was yet to be confirmed as archbishop and so was unsure about how the church's stand on the introduction of sex education in schools.

"We need to teach this in our schools and get it down to the grassroots level," said Father Chong.

"The church will be more involved in the grassroots in awareness programs within the parishes, schools and other institutions of society to advocate against sexual harassment and violence against women and children," he said.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop-elect says the church faced many challenging issues and needed all the support from its followers.

"There needs to be a wide consultation in order to address the issues that the parishes face at the grassroots level and to work out a solution for these problems."

"When we have achieved this state of wide consultation then only can the church be relevant in addressing problems and issues," he said.

Father Chong said he was working towards guiding a church that not only preached to its adherents but one that also responded to those in need in the world.


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