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Fiji Time: 1:47 AM on Monday 21 April

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Archbishop maintains public view

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, December 07, 2013

ARCHBISHOP Peter Loy Chong maintained yesterday that as a theologian, he could not compromise on his belief that religion was a public matter.

Speaking at a panel discussion on religion and secular state at the 15th Attorney-General's Conference in Natadola, the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji said his response to the argument mirrored that of the head of the global Catholic faith.

"We do not have a problem with Fiji being called a secular state," he said.

"The church supports the separation of State and religion, that priests and the clergy cannot be involved in politics.

"However, faith and religion should not be a private matter. It cannot be a mere personal event, it calls for public expression. We have a contribution to society based on divine truth and religion should be an essential part of society.

"The biggest issue here is we look at it from a theological point of view while others look at it from a legalistic point of view."

The archbishop said he would encourage his flock to continue discussions on this provision in the Constitution and he hoped the government would hold more dialogue on the issue.

Reverend James Bhagwan, secretary for communication for the Methodist Church, said the issue lay in the definition of a secular state in the Constitution.

He said this meant the church must speak the truth, in love, and responding to the issues of injustice and poverty.