News Release

French Polynesia Mourns Victims of Covid-19 at Multi-Faith Prayer Service

Churches support president’s call for day of fasting and meditation

A major outbreak of the new variant of the COVID-19 virus has struck French Polynesia with more than 3,000 cases, over 400 hospitalisations, and multiple fatalities.

With a population of only 280,000, the impact is profound. Hospitals are over capacity and the case loads are rising.

As a part of his response plan, President Edouard Fritch convened the council of churches on 27 August to discuss his recommendation for a national day of prayer and fasting.

Elder Frederic Riemer, a senior leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joined with other faith leaders recently to urge people to turn their hearts to God.

“Let us unite in prayer, with the intention of peace and healing on Sunday, September 5, on the occasion of the International Day of Charity,” declared President Fritch.

“We are not allowed to give up. In the face of the threat, we will certainly be stronger in the unity and in the solidarity of our people with the support of our Heavenly Father.”

In response, Elder Riemer invited each family to support the president and to unite in prayer, meditation and fasting on September 5. “We will again exercise our faith to implore the heavens to intervene and bless our people.”

He also called on Church members to, “spread peace, unity, respect, tolerance in the face of scepticism. Let’s flood our social networks with messages of love and share Jesus Christ's messages of peace. Let's be part of those who bring together, unite and build our Fenua (country).”

Elder Frederic Riemer of the Church speaks along with three other religious leaders at the multi-faith prayer service in French Polynesia, September 2021

In addition, President Fritch invited the leaders of the country’s religious denominations to join him for a multi-faith service in homage to the victims of Covid-19 that was broadcast on national television the evening before the day of fasting.

Heartfelt messages were given by religious leaders.

Monsignor Jean-Pierre Cottanceau, from the Catholic Mission, said, “It is a time of solidarity to be stronger, to remind ourselves that we are responsible for the good of others."

François Pihaatae, from the Evangelical Maohi Church, commended President Fritch for his actions.

He said, “This solemn call to meditation and fasting, made not by a religious leader but a political leader, is admirable and historic in our country. It echoes the one by the King of Nineveh in the Old Testament who urged his people to fast and pray for God's forgiveness (Jonah Chapter 3). This fast will allow us to purify ourselves, to question ourselves. We must believe that God can help us in this terrible trial. Only God can heal us."

Community of Christ representative, Benjamin Colombani, said, “This gesture of solidarity is a commitment to build a more loving humanity, so that God can make us victorious even in our weakness."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was again represented by Elder Riemer.

He counseled on how to find comfort and peace in such difficult times, recalling the words of Church President Russell M. Nelson: “Amid such uncertainty, there is only one way to feel at peace—the real peace that passes all understanding. That peace is found in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Elder Riemer continued, "I promise you that if we are united in prayer and fasting, united in actions of peace, united in this fight, God will bless and protect us. Let us come as one under the banner of Christ and together we can overcome this test.”

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