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Fiji: prelate concerned about secularist interpretation of new constitution

Catholic World News - December 12, 2013

The bishop of Fiji’s sole diocese has criticized secularist interpretations of the nation’s new constitution.

According to the constitution, which was adopted in September, “religious belief is personal,” “religion and the State are separate,” and “no person shall assert any religious belief as a legal reason to disregard this Constitution or any other law.”

In addition, the constitution provides that “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.”

“We do not want a theocracy; we never said we wanted a Christian state,” said Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva. “However, we are concerned about whether a secularist state wants to reduce faith to a purely individualistic matter.”

“The Church has a prophetic role to carry out, indicating principles and guidelines ‘to help its members and all people of good will to make decisions for the common good,’” according to a Fides report that summarized the prelate’s comments.

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