MEMBERS of the Pacific Conference of Churches have been asked to pray for a referendum process scheduled in Kananky (New Caledonia).
In a pastoral letter to member churches, PCC General Secretary – Reverend James Bhagwan – asked for a day of prayer on September 27 and a second on October 4 when the referendum will be held.
The referendum is the second of three based on the Nouméa Accord which signed in May 1998 by the French government and parties which support or reject independence.
As part of a negotiated transition to independence, the parties agreed address shared sovereignty and an end to New Caledonia’s status as a French overseas territory; elections for new political institutions; transfer of administrative powers; recognition of Kanak culture and identity; and a further transition before a referendum on self-determination.
Here is Bhagwan’s letter to the leaders:
Dear Church Leaders and Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Warm Church greetings during this Season of Creation, from your PCC Secretariat!
You may recall that during our 2018 General Assembly, we endorsed a statement of solidarity and call for prayer for our sisters and brothers in Kanaky in the lead up to their first referendum on independence from France.
As we continue to hear the cries of our communities who struggle to sing the Lord’s song as songs of freedom and justice in their own land and as our sisters and brothers in Kanaky (New Caledonia) approach the second referendum on Sunday 4th October, we call the churches in the Pacific to pray for Kanaky’s sovereignty and self-determination, which they deserve.
The referendum is based on the Nouméa Accord, signed in May 1998 by the French government, the FLNKS and the anti-independence RPCR (Rassamblement Pour la Calédonie dans la République), as part of a negotiated transition to independence. Key elements of the agreement included: shared sovereignty and an end to New Caledonia’s status as a French overseas territory; elections for new political institutions; transfer of administrative powers; recognition of Kanak culture and identity; and a further transition before a referendum on self-determination.
I humbly call on all our member churches to join in solidarity and pray for a peaceful process, for an honest, free and fair referendum on Sunday 27th September and on the referendum day of Sunday 4th October, 2020.
In particular please pray for member church EPKNC (Eglise Protestante de Kanaky Nouvelle Caledonie) Protestant Church of Kanaky New Caledonia, the Youth of Kanaky, and other communities on the viability of building a multicultural nation outside the French constitution.
Let our prayers contribute to making Self-Determination a part of the “new normal.
I find it deeply significant that this second referendum will take place on the Sunday dedicated to St. Frances of Assisi, not only marking the conclusion to the Season of Creation but also to pray for God’s shalom and peace in Kanaky and our Pacific including Tanah (West) Papua and Ma’ohi Nui.
I therefore also encourage you to end your prayer for Kanaky with the prayer attributed to St. Francis, commonly known as the Peace Prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is injury, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring unity.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
(This is the 1912 version – there are other versions https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/prayer/traditional-catholic-prayers/saints-prayers/peace-prayer-of-saint-francis/)
Please also remember those communities struggling with the health challenges of COVID19 (Papua New Guinea, Ma’ohi Nui, Guam and others) and the economical, social and political challenges faced in other countries.
Please kindly share with your congregations and communities.
God’s blessings be with you all.