Archbishop Chong – effective and relevant reponse to challenges

The Archbishop of Suva, Peter Chong, says the church is faced with a dual commitment and faithfulness. The church has to be faithful to the church’s scripture, tradition, and teachings while at the same time being faithful when attending to the questions, problems and needs of the community.

He argues this dual commitment can be achieved through a tool called the pastoral circle which was formulated by the USA Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Jesuit Order to help churches, organisations and religious communities respond effectively to the issues that face them.

Chong says there are four moments in the pastoral circle: insertion, social analysis, theological reflection and action plan.

  1. Insertion — involves asking what is happening? Put yourself in the situation. One good way of doing this, he said, was imagining yourself looking down on Fiji. One asks what are the people experiencing, what are their fears, what are their aspirations?
  2. Social analysis — why is this happening? Why of the what. What are the root causes of the problem? Why are things the way they are? Archbishop Chong said that social analysis could be likened to a visit to the doctor. The doctor carries out an analysis to identify the cause of illness. He said this second moment was very important because “unless we know the root cause, we might not be able to effectively address the situation”.
  3. Theological reflection — here we reflect on what is God saying to us in this situation/problem. This is an attempt to understand the problem from the perspective of God.
  4. Action plan — what is to be done? This course of action is informed by the social analysis and the theological reflection.

The pastoral circle guides the Churches, communities, and organisations towards relevancy and effectiveness in responding to their challenges.

He says training will be needed and expertise will be drawn from both the laity and the religious communities. Archbishop Chong says he wants to use this tool at all levels within the local church so that its teachings, interpretations and applications will always be relevant to those whom the church serves.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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