Analysis

Journalist Unfairly Attacked in Controversy Over Priest’s Conduct

Tuimaisala was doing her job as a journalist. Journalists are expected to act like public watchdogs. To her credit as a local girl and church member, she had the courage and enterprise to pursue the story and highlight the issue in the public interest.This was not about an attack on the Catholic Church.
26 Jun 2021 13:14
Journalist Unfairly Attacked in Controversy Over Priest’s Conduct

Fiji Sun journalist Lusiana Tuimaisala has been un­fairly attacked over her report about the conduct of a Catholic priest in Namosi.

She is a staunch Catholic her­self and it appears many mem­bers in the area have closed ranks and accused her for bring­ing the church into disrepute.

There is feeling in some quar­ters of the church that if this was an alleged sexual abuse case then it would have warranted public attention.

But Ms Tuimaisala’s report was on the priest’s alleged ac­tivities relating to COVID-19 which breached the the village COVID-19 protocols. Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Long Choy is investigating the case.

The priest had picked a family at Navua. They had come from Natovi in Tailevu on June 8 and he dropped them at the village. The family was in the village’s isolation centre.

The priest, who was allegedly told to isolate as well, said that would prevent him from carry­ing out his pastoral responsi­bilities. But that night, villagers claimed he went and drank grog at the isolation centre with the family.

When Ms Tuimaisala ap­proached him he said he did not recognise the law set by the vil­lage committee.

He added that not all the villag­ers had approved the law, there­fore it was invalid.

In order to put this matter in its proper perspective, a number of issues must be addressed.

Public watchdog

First, Ms Tuimaisala was doing her job as a journalist.

Journalists are expected to act like public watchdogs.

To her credit as a local girl and church member, she had the courage and enterprise to pur­sue the story and hightlight the issue in the public interest.

This was not about an attack on the Catholic Church.

It was a matter of principle to raise this issue at a time when breaches of protocols, restric­tions and the curfew continue unabated and the number of positive cases has reached three digits.

This is a worrying trend exac­erbated by people taking the pre­cautionary measures lightly.

Religious leaders are influen­tial members of society because of their position. They are spirit­ual leaders and church members follow their example.

In this case the priest’s conduct, if it was in breach on the village protocols, was inexcusable and unacceptable.

His response that the village protocols, obviously set by the Government, do not apply to him suggests that he could be above the law.

The protocols were designed to keep villagers safe from the killer virus.

The priest concerned should follow his leader Archbishop Loy Chong.

He has led the church by exam­ple and priests should take their cue from him.

Archbishop Loy Chong had been continuously urging Cath­olics, including priests, nuns, brothers, and catechists, to obey Government protocols to fight COVID-19.

Namosi district representative, Petero Leveni, said he was not happy with the priest’s conduct.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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