CATHOLIC priests are not allowed to get involved in party politics, which means they cannot support a party, stand for a party or promote or tell the congregation about which particular party they should support.
According to Archbishop Peter Chong, the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, this is a non-negotiable principal and forms the basis of the church's position on the issue of the separation of religion and the state.
He made the comments in an interview with this newspaper on Thursday about the issue of the separation of religion and the state under the 2013 Constitution.
"That is a clear distinction, we are not to be involved in party politics or to be seen supporting a political party or even a political institution," Archbishop Chong said.
"This is because we cannot undermine the gospel to serve a human institution. We are only called to support the kingdom of God, which is the gospel, but not abuse the gospel and the church to support a human institution."
However, Archbishop Chong said the church played an important role in the public to ensure people were made aware of the situation around them and help them make informed decisions about their political situation.
"Our role is to educate and make people aware of the current situation in Fiji.
"Our role is to also speak the prophetic voice of the church and announce the kingdom of God and whatever else is happening in society.
"The church denounces the exploitation of people as going against the kingdom of God.
"It's true that there should be a separation of religion and state in terms of party politics, however, the church also has the role."
Archbishop Chong said politics and the church have a common agenda — which was to develop the people.
He said they wanted to see people developed from God's perspective and evaluating politics in light of the kingdom of God.
Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said while they do not agree with this clause in the supreme law, there was nothing much they could do.
At some point, he said, the two should not be separated because they involved the same people.
"Maybe when we have another Constitution this can change, but for now we will just have to work according to the 2013 Constitution," Mr Nawadra said.
Under Chapter One of the Constitution, religion and the state are separate, which means:
* The state and all persons holding public office must treat all religions equally;
* The state and all persons holding public office must not dictate any religious belief;
* The state and all persons holding public office must not prefer or advance, by any means, any particular religion, religious denomination, religious belief, or religious practice over another, or over any non-religious belief; and
* No person shall assert any religious belief as a legal reason to disregard this Constitution or any other law.