Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sorry, would you mind giving your reasons for going to Fiji again

Here is a compelling case for no NZer to visit Fiji, courtesy Stuff.

So, tell me again why our General Synod is proposing to hold its next meeting in Fiji?


Hogster said...

Mmmmmm. Maybe a misplaced sense of guilt, or possibly the cultural norm of tolerate and the fear of challenging anything.

Father Ron Smith said...

In the same way, Peter, would you question the wisdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury's proposed visit to Zimbabwe, when the Church there is being persecuted by Mugabe's Regime?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I haven't particularly followed the visit of the ABC to Zimbabwe; but I imagine his visit was one which sought to encourage the church there. If so, then, similarly, I have no problem in principle with our leaders (and missioners, pastors, etc) visiting to encourage our brothers and sisters there. (In practice, the article I link to needs to be taken into account re safety concerns).

My concern re General Synod meeting there is whether it is free to conduct any business it chooses without fear or favour. I do not think it can, and the article I link to underlines some reasons for my concern.

Of course if the English General Synod or the American General Convention chose to meet in Zimbabwe then I imagine quie a bit of concern similar to mine re our General Synod would erupt on the internet!

Howard Pilgrim said...

I share you concern as to possible loss of freedom in the GS deliberations, Peter, but will venture two possible reasons for proceeding as planned:-
1. Fiji is within our province, indeed it is the administrative heart of one of Tikanga Pacifica (Contrary to your analogy of the CofE assembling in Zimbabwe), and we need to assert our rights to assemble freely anywhere on our own patch. More importantly, it is really God's patch and our assembly there will serve to remind the regime of that fact.
2. Why should we leave all the redemptive suffering to the Methodists? Our delegates should go, refuse to kowtow to any instructions from the state as to how we must conduct our business, and accept any consequences as followers of Jesus.

No doubt these are among the many considerations influencing our wise and courageous leaders. Are you not just a little bit envious that you will not be there? :-)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Howard
I do not think that going to Fiji and freely exercising our free speech will lead to drastic martyrdom and imprisonment for our faith (courageous and admirable though that would be). I suggest it will lead to us either voluntarily restraining our speech or, should we not do so, to being placed on the next plane back to NZ. That would be embarrassing, and potentially an expensive folly on our part.

Envious of responsibility for such things? Not at all!

Father Ron Smith said...

I, personally, feel that General Synod should be held in Fiji - if only to signal our New Zealand Church's identification with the Church there.

I wonder, Peter, if you think all Anglicans should quit Fiji in protest at the regime? Many Fijians appear to be happy with the regime.

We, as New Zealanders, may not approve of the apparent lack of democratic procedure, but I wonder if the majority of Fijians would agree with us. Is that important?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
There are various ways in which our church can and has identified with the Diocese of Polynesia with special reference to Fiji.

My question, which no one here has actually engaged with, is whether the price of General Synod itself being a means of identification with the Diocese of Polynesia, that is, the price of constraining our freedom of speech in Synod is worth paying?

As for the majority of Fijians supporting the regime, how would you know that? In a society ruled by fear, led by a tyrant who resorts to thugs to beat and kill people, but does not resort to elections to test his popularity, what would be the basis on which we would determine that the majority of Fijians were happy with their government?

Father Ron Smith said...

Having lived & worked in Fiji, and understood the origins of the tensions there - which have not altered greatly since my 3-year tenure, which included the Cession & Independence - I can tell you that the regime before Bainimarama was even more restrictive than the one presiding at the moment.

Having known the present Bishop in Fiji from when he was a student, I trust in his judgement and the faith community which he heads, that the Anglican Church in the Pacific Islands is doing the very best it can to mitigate the cost to the people in Fiji of living under Bainimarama's rule.

The alternative, at one time, was much more threatening to the racial mix of people living in Fiji. At least we know that the Indian population is actually part of the Government. That may not have been allowed under the previous, interim leadership.

What we have to avoid is saddling Fiji with a form of government from overseas - like the one-time option taken in Iraq.

For General Synod to meet in Fiji will hearten, not only Anglicans there, but also the local Methodist community that presently has no
voice in government.

I do not believe that our Church of ACANZP will do anything that will endanger the possibility of democratic progress within Fiji. It may, indeed, prove to be the opposite. Pax et Bonum!