2 Jun 2016

Catholic bishop in Samoa stays away from Islam debate

6:48 am on 2 June 2016

The Catholic Archbishop of Samoa has distanced himself from a call by the Christian churches to ban Islam.

The National Council of Churches made the call two weeks ago, and called for Christianity to be further entrenched in the constitution.

But Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga says his representative on the council did not ask him for his opinion on the matter.

He says it's wrong to identify Islam and terrorism, and the best way forward for all religions is peaceful dialogue.

"The Catholic Church is at the forefront of dialogue especially with non-Christian religions and I take that view too. I think we should open our hearts and our minds to Islam and not really to rush into condemning Islam just because of terrorists."

Archbishop Mataeliga says the constitution already recognises Samoa as a Christian country and there should be a clear separation of church and state.