THE Lenten season has begun, and Christians worldwide have been celebrating with the various traditions and holidays the season brings.
During this 40-day period, many Catholics will try to alter their way of living in order to become better Christians — some by giving up things they enjoy, but many others by choosing to forgive and forget about previous disagreements.
The season provides Christians with a perfect opportunity to reflect on their actions, put matters right and begin life anew, says Pacific Conference of Churches general secretary Reverend Francois Pihaatae.
"In the case of Fiji, as the nation prepares for a fresh start and elections in September, it is pertinent for all leaders — religious and secular — to recognise that much hurt has occurred throughout our history," Mr Pihaatae said.
"If we merely push ahead without addressing the hurt and division, these festering problems can come back to haunt us in future.
"With deep humility, may the PCC suggest that during Lent, all Christian churches take the time to go through the process of healing, of seeking forgiveness, of forgiving others?
"Let us open this process to people of all faiths who call Fiji their home."
Mr Pihaatae said the late Methodist Church president, Rev Tuikilakila Waqairatu, had proposed a ritual washing of the feet in all divisions and churches as the beginning of the healing process.
"We must wash the feet of our friends — literally and figuratively — during Lent, difficult as the process may be," Mr Pihaatae said.
He said reconciliation was a three-fold process: Realisation that a wrong has been committed, expressing remorse and making right through appropriate actions.
Mr Pihaatae said the message of reconciliation and forgiveness was applicable throughout the region, especially in Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), West Papua and Kanaky (New Caledonia) where people struggled for self-determination.
Other communities affected include the people of the Northern Pacific — affected by nuclear testing in the 1950s — and low-lying atolls affected by climate change.
"The PCC wishes all people of the Pacific a meaningful and blessed Lenten season," Mr Pihaatae said.