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Catholic clergy challenges S.I.S.D.A.C leader to televised debate

The Catholic Church’s Assistant Archbishop, Father Muliau Stowers, has challenged the Worldwide Leader of the Samoa Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (S.I.S.D.A.C.), Pastor Willie Papu, to a televised debate.

Pastor Papu has come under increasing criticism in recent days for rubbishing other churches during a TV1 religious programme.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi is among his latest critics.

Father Stowers, who had earlier warned of repercussions by other churches and called for the programme to be taken off air, told the Samoa Observer that it is time for him and Pastor Papu to “compare their understanding” of the Holy scriptures. 

“It’s not that I’m trying to show that I’m completely and religiously accurate but it’s to compare our understanding of the Bible especially since he has criticised how we worship,” he said in an interview. 

“It’s important to get both sides of the story and not just let him have the freedom to express his religious views, while at the same time criticising the other churches and affecting the religious beliefs of other people.”

Father Stowers said he had initially tried to contact the S.I.S.D.A.C. pastor for a chat but without success. 

Describing Pastor Papu’s preaching as "unethical" and "lacking biblical knowledge", the Catholic Assistant Archbishop said Pastor Papu should be held accountable for his views.

The Prime Minister joined the debate on Tuesday, when he told the Parliament that churches are supposed to preach about peace and not incite violence and unrest amongst the population with their preaching.

“A church that follows God should lead the way in peace making. The preaching from the church leader has not been done once or twice, it has happened many times on national television,” Tuilaepa said. 

The TV1 management also came under scrutiny in the Parliament for continuing to air the program despite the widespread condemnation by the public and church leaders.

"The TV should be doing their job to screen these [programs]," added the Prime Minister. 

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