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'Silenced church'

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Chong, says the church has not engaged effectively with things happening in society.

Archbishop Chong said while the late Archbishop Emeritus Petero Mataca spoke out about certain issues such as the past coups, those were his personal views.

"One of my arguments is that the church is not engaging effectively and appropriately or almost altogether disengaged with what is happening in society, especially the social problems and political crisis like the 2000 coup," he said.

"The archbishop (Emeritus Mataca) had made responses but personally. But as a church, we did not really have strategic responses to social and political crisis with what has been happening, so in other words we have had a silenced church.

"Although the archbishop spoke, he made some good engagements but the practical engagement of the church with the grassroots has been minimal, so my interest is to see the church contributing to society."

Archbishop Chong said with such a situation, it was important to know and identify how to effectively engage the church.

"So one of the questions is how to empower the church to be engaged in the community and reaching out even to those victimised.

"And one of the ways is through empowering Christian communities to read the signs of the time and see society and upon reflecting on church teachings, then respond.

"So it is either reaching out to people or speaking out and also to do training with small Christian communities or basic ecclesiastical communities.

"We want a church that is engaged and a church should be able to contribute to society and if it fails to do that, then according to Vatican documents you cease to be a church and you are just another club or association.

"It's not a matter of speaking out but making the church relevant in society."

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