The Words of the Watanabe Family
Suva, Fiji - Religious leaders of the Fiji Islands, which is a multi-racial and multi-religious society, gathered at the Nasinu Town Council Chamber on June 13, 2009 to discuss the values of “marriage and family.” Perspectives were shared on this theme as representatives from each religious organization met to empower themselves as instruments for peace.
This second Inter-religious Peace Council was originally scheduled on May 15 to coincide with the International Day of Families. It was rescheduled for June 13 due to the need to comply with public emergency regulations. These regulations have been in force as a national security measure since the constitution was abrogated by the President of Fiji on April 10. According to authorities, conferences such this should be encouraged to continue despite the process necessary to comply with regulations.
The participants included representatives from the Christian faith: Roman Catholic, Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; from the Hindu faith: Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha and its women’s wing; from the Muslim faith: Anjuman Hidyat-ul-Islam, Amadiya Anjuman Ishat-i-Islam, and Amadiya Muslim Jama’at; and the Baha’i Faith.
Mr. Paula Eroni Sotutu, Chairman of the Inter-religious Peace Council, used the Chairman’s address to emphasize the importance of the recognition of the same God that we all believe in and reminded the participants that this was affirmed at the previous council meeting. He also spoke of the need to practice the universal values we confirm through the activities of the Inter-religious Peace Council.
Values of Marriage and Family were presented from the unique viewpoints of Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Baha’i Faiths. Kenji Watanabe, Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation-Fiji, spoke on the significance of a strong marriage and family as instruments for peace. This was then discussed among the participants. All members confirmed that we, as standard bearers of morality, are all responsible for the family breakdown and sexual immorality which are threatening the stability and peace of society.
At the conclusion, Mr. Dewan Chan Maharaj, President of Sanatan Dharm and a member of the council, gave words of appreciation. He testified that the council has planted a seed that will grow for further cooperation, breaking down walls between religions, and forming a common ground for peace-building.
The IPC Fiji chapter will continue to substantiate a vision of One Family under One God through the development of joint events such us the Global Peace Festival.