News Story

French Polynesia’s President Calls on Religious Leaders to Help Stop the Spread of COVID

Latter-day Saint leader encourages others to follow example of President Russell M. Nelson by getting vaccinated, fasting

With the increasing spread of the Delta variant, President Edouard Fritch met with religious leaders of French Polynesia on 13 August 2021 to ask for their help in stopping COVID.

Elder Frédéric Riemer, Area Seventy, represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and told the group that they are following the counsel of Church President Russell M. Nelson who has encouraged Church members worldwide to be vaccinated.

“It is part of our personal efforts to be good citizens of the world and help eliminate COVID-19 around the world,” President Nelson has said. He also encouraged members to “do what you can to reduce the number of COVID cases in your area." Besides being the leader of the 16-million-member church, President Nelson is also a physician.

Elder Riemer said: “We are asking our members in French Polynesia to follow the example of President Nelson to be vaccinated. In addition, the Church is doing its part by asking all of its members to act as responsible citizens and implement stronger measures to break the chain of propagation of the Delta variant in our communities.”

These measures include closing all Church buildings through August, having in-home sacrament meetings (worship services), having other Church meetings through technology, and following local regulations about mask-wearing and social distancing.

President Fritch and Dominique Sorain, French High Commissioner, have announced new measures to fight against the pandemic. Among them is a nightly curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., a two-week lockdown, and an urgent plea to be vaccinated.

During an official meeting with all major religious denominations to discuss the new measures, High Commissioner Sorain shared with the religious authorities: “We know how important spirituality is, especially Sunday worship in French Polynesia. But we ask you to limit gatherings on Sundays as much as possible to reduce the movement of people and the spreading of the virus ─ and thus participate in the protection of all.”

President Fritch added: “The churches have always been respectful of the instructions given by the country. Today, we must continue to increase our collective immunity through vaccination. With the spread of the Delta variant, getting vaccinated is a race against the clock.”

He also praised Pope Francis and President Nelson for their repeated calls for vaccination, a strong civic gesture that contributes to achieving collective immunity. “I remain optimistic and confident for Polynesia. We will get out of this. Thanks to your prayers and love for one another and the community, we can avoid even more restrictive measures."

Elder Riemer also called on French Polynesians of all faiths to join in a day of fasting and prayer, which was held on 14-15 August, to be relieved of the physical, emotional and economic effects of this global pandemic. Another day of fasting and prayer is scheduled on Sunday 29 August, not only for the healing of the country but also for a profound personal change of heart.

“Let us unite in supplication for healing in our Fenua (country). We know that during these difficult times we can be edified and strengthened as we focus our life on God and His Son Jesus Christ the Master healer,” Elder Riemer said.

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