Bishops and Archbishops meet in Fiji; reality of rising sea level on the agenda

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Archbishop Peter Loy Chong at his home in Suva. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FILE

A total of 84 Bishops and Archbishops will be attending a six-day Federation of Catholic Bishops of Oceania (FCBCO) General Assembly that begins today with the opening mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva.

The participants are expected to deliberate on issues of climate change, rising sea level, and the importance of the ocean for small island states, among other issues.

In a statement, Archbishop Loy Chong said bishops of Oceania must tackle the reality of rising sea levels in their part of the world because if they did not, no one else would.

“As theologians say, context matters. And as Jon Sobrino, the Latin American theologian says, ‘we have to carry the weight of the reality of our experience’ and, for us, that experience is of the oceans,” the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji said.

“We will speak about the small island nations and the Pacific Ocean in a way that we who live in the islands and live on the ocean know the importance of the ocean and its significance in terms of the earth’s whole ecosystem.”

The bishops will participate in site visits while in Fiji to see first-hand the impact of rising sea levels and extractive mining processes on low-lying island nations.

Formation for mission is another central theme of the assembly, along with the increasing emphasis on synodality, or “walking together” in the Church as people of God.

A sevusevu (traditional welcome ceremony) will be held at St Joseph Secondary School after the mass.

The conference will be held at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.

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