Bishops’ six-day meet – Assembly to focus on climate change, rising seas, mission etc

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong shares a light moment with other bishops after the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conference of Oceania opening mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva on Sunday, February 05, 2023.Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

A six-day general assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops of Oceania (FCBCO) began with a mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva on Sunday.

Eighty-four bishops and archbishops are attending the event to deliberate on issues associated with climate change, rising sea level, and the importance of the ocean for small island states, among others.

In a statement, the Archbishop of Suva, Peter 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,” he said.

“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.

“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. The meeting is being held at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.

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