‘Provide clear pathway’ – Fijians confused by mixed messages from Government, says Archbishop

The head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, at his offi ce in Suva yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

The Fiji Council of Churches states Government should seek the assistance of economists to find a clear strategy to stop COVID-19 while sustaining the economy.

Council president and head of the Catholic Church Archbishop Peter Loy Chong made the recommendation during a meeting with Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong and chief medical adviser Dr Jemesa Tudravu.

He said the churches “wish to remind our civil leaders that the economy serves human persons”. “The economy does not serve only the business sector,” he said.

The archbishop also said Fijians were confused by the mixed messages from Government combined with misinformation about the vaccines – and the only way to stop the confusion was for Government to come up with a clear strategy and to communicate this to the people.

He also said Dr Waqainabete should ensure clear and consistent COVID-19 public advisories were delivered on a regular basis.

“First it was, ‘the virus moves when people move – stay home’, next it’s open borders to generate the economy,” the archbishop said.

“Misinformation on vaccination and misinterpretation of the Bible and theology has exacerbated peoples’ confusion – people need a clear pathway to stop COVID-19 and to build their hope and positive attitude.

“The Government needs to formulate a well-researched strategy and communicate it to the people.”

The council recommended Government call a broad consultation and utilise the resources of family, vanua systems, religious communities, NGOs, ethnic communities, business sector and foreign partners to stop COVID-19.

“Fiji’s poverty rate is at 30 per cent, can the 70 per cent help stock up poor families in COVID-19 red zone areas to prepare for lockdown?

“Our strategy should be inspired by our religious and cultural values (solesolevaki), the principle of subsidiarity, the universal principle of love and the common good and the principle of the lesser evil.

“In uncertain times like this, we must not forget that God is still the creator of the world. He knows what is needed to reset the world.”

Meanwhile, the ministry has requested churches to use their teachings to encourage members to get vaccinated and follow COVID-19 regulations.

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