A Broken Vanua

A Fijian church leader, the Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Suva His Grace Dr Peter Loy Chong has written an inspirational song calling for a stop to be put to coal production, logging and all other harmful actions against Mother Nature.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong

Titled ‘Island People Raise Your Voice’, the song laments the cry of mother earth from the abuses of deforestation, extractives industry that in turn has made children of the islands cry because of climate change.

PTC Principal Rev. Dr. Upolu Va’ai (extreme left) with other church leaders.

The song was launched by the powerful, melodious voices of the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Suva during an ecumenical prayer service for the ‘Season of Creation’ attended by about 400 people from different Christian denominations, theological colleges and faith communities including Hindus and Muslims at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva City on September 18.

The Pacific Theological College opened the service with the hymn ‘Pasifika’.

Archbishop Loy-Chong said humans have created crimes against creation, endangered the global ecosystem and that the community of believers must unite to protect it because it is a gift from God that we have a responsibility for.

Verses from Hindu and Islamic scriptures narrated by the faith clerics reverberated through Cathedral

Delivering the homily, Reverend Dr. Donato Kacivi, a Marist priest who holds a doctorate in ecological studies from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Dr. Donato said environmental protection is a concern for all because it touches on all areas of our life.

‘God then planted a garden, which had all kinds of trees enticing to look at and good to eat. He then placed man in the garden to till and take care of it,’ Rev. Dr. Donato said.

‘The garden offered food, so food security was assured, the garden offered medicinal plants, health security was assured – their human security was assured.’

‘It did not just stop there, it was also a comfortable place to live in, everything that man saw was “enticing to look at” – yes because humanity’s home was crafted with and in beauty. It was paradise in the very literal sense of the word.

‘This paradise is our planet earth. It is our Vanua. The only one in our solar system that provides the conditions necessary for life.’

Father Donato emphasized the Vanua was broken and needs peoples help.

‘We are not only called for our personal salvation, but for the salvation of all, going from personal, to family, to village, to government to all of creation. We are called to be leaders and to advocate love, peace and justice. Our goal is to enter into that loving relationship which the first couple experienced in the garden of Eden. To be in harmony with ourselves, in harmony with God, in harmony with our neighbours and harmony with all of creation. This is restorative justice because we return to “original justice.”

Our broken Vanua needs us – we know it is broken in all kinds of level whether it is communal, social, cultural, political, cultural etc.

We can no longer hide it. It all comes back to why we here tonight. To realign ourselves, we need to put on the eyes of the Christ in how he sees the world. We need to speak of creation as our home because it communicates God’s loving relationship to us. Through Christ’s love he has gifted us with a Vanua that is teeming with life and beauty.

The earth, our Vanua is not simply the place where we sleep, eat and get sustained. To re-echo the words of St. Boniface, “we need to realize that we exist more truly when we love then where we merely live.”

The Season of Creation as a Catholic liturgy addresses growing concerns about the effects of industrial development on the environment.