10 Aug 2005

Shared faith key to solving Wallis dispute, hopes new bishop

7:14 pm on 10 August 2005

The Catholic leader of Wallis and Futuna hopes that faith may be the key to resolving a three-month political dispute.

Monsignor Ghislain de Rasilly is offering to bring together royal clans engaged in a dispute over the power of customary authorities.

Monsignor de Rasilly says the people of the French territory may be split over politics but they're united by religion.

"Both sides are Catholics and they claim to be Catholic, and I think it is a big help to know that they are Catholics and think both sides want to do something to work together."

At the centre of the row is the 86-year-old Wallisian king, the Lavelua, whose supporters question the authority of the French prefect.

But other clans, including the royalty of Futuna, dispute the authority of the Wallisian king.