HEAD OF FIJI CATHOLIC CHURCH ARCHBISHOP MATACCA ISSUES WARNING ON RACE AND

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POLITICS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 2, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The head of Fiji's Catholic Church has called on churches to re-examine their role in fuelling racial and political conflicts.

Archbishop Petero Matacca issued the appeal in his address to a workshop on national peace being held in Suva.

Radio Australia correspondent Francis Herman reports.

"He called on religious groups to urgently and thoroughly examine their role in justifying ethnic politics and fuelling racial and political conflicts.

"Certain Christian churches, according to the archbishop, allowed themselves to be used for nationalistic agendas rather than for the agenda of the Kingdom of God.

"This comment was in specific reference to the appointment of Methodist Church President Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi to the Senate as a nominee of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Archbishop Matacca also commented on the Army’s role since the events of last year, saying the role of the military in a multi cultural society like Fiji’s has to be seriously reexamined.

"He also called on government and community groups to work together and put in place structures to promote dialogue on contentious issues such as land leases.

"Francis Herman, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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