Perhaps govt should handle all land deals in PNG
PNG: The Australian media’s mad - I love the place

Ageing prelate speaks out on hot PNG issues


Sir Brian Barnes, former head of the Catholic Church in PNG and a Papua New Guinea citizen, is now, aged 80 and after some years of ill health, retired to the Franciscan Friary at Waverley in Sydney. As Archbishop of Port Moresby, Sir Brian never hesitated to criticise government and other authorities if he thought they deserved it. One observer told PNG Attitude, “I am sure some prime minister would have loved to silence or deport him but he had the people behind him (especially the police) and they would have been out in the streets in their thousands.”

When Sir Brian first came to PNG he was in the Aitape Diocese and spent many years on a mission station near Nuku. “He certainly did the hard yards,” said our observer. He was later made Police Chaplain in Moresby and visited every corner of PNG wherever a policeman was based. Universally loved, Sir Brian eventually became Bishop of Aitape and then Archbishop of Moresby. He remains the quiet unassuming Friar.

In his spidery handwriting, made difficult by Parkinson’s Disease, Sir Brian offered the following words on some current issues in PNG ….

Death penalty. This isn't an answer to the crime problem. Experience in countries in which the death penalty is in force indicates that it is not a deterrent. With the PNG payback culture, there will be problems. The death penalty leaves no possibility of reform or correction of mistakes by the court. And for Christians, life is sacred. PNG has gone too far in extending the death penalty to crimes such as rape and armed robbery.

Infrastructure. Good roads are essential for development. Roads all over PNG need upgrading and maintenance. Many areas have not progressed and have gone backwards.

Police. Discipline in the Police (also the Defence Force and CIS) is very poor. Numbers of police personnel are breaking the law, rather than upholding it. Public confidence in the police is low. Getting assistance from Australian police is a good idea. Let's hope it works this time.

Corruption. Still a major problem in PNG at all levels. Prominent among offenders still seem to be politicians and public servants.

Asylum seekers. PNG should not be locking up refugees and asylum seekers to help Australia solve its problems. They haven't broken PNG laws. They have a right to have their cases investigated and not kept locked up indefinitely.

PNG can expect to have riots in Manus, as in Nauru, if this policy is followed. PNG seems to be attracted by the funding given by Australia. This is Australia's problem and indefinite mandatory detention in PNG is not part of the solution.


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Natalie McNamara

Today we deeply mourn the passing of our most beloved Brian, Archbishop Sir Brian Barnes, very proud citizen of PNG.
There are no words adequate to describe this giant of a deeply humble, prophetic & saintly Friar. Our world is so much the poorer for his passing . Rest now in peace dearest Brian, good & faithful servant & enjoy the rich reward waiting for you in Heaven
The McNamara Family

Rob Parer

The Diocese of Aitape has today celebrated it's Golden Jubilee with Franciscan Bishop Ignatius Doggett OFM being the first Bishop of the Aitape Diocese.

Previous to this on 15th May 1952 Monsignor Ignatius Doggett OFM was installed in charge of Prefecture Apostolic of Aitape.

Following him was Bishop William Rowell OFM in 1970,then Bishop Brian Barnes OFM 1988,then Bishop Austen Crapp OFM 1999.And now Bishop Otto Separy of East Sepik was consecrated on 30th Oct 2007 & the present Bishop of Aitape.

During 1946 some 18 priests and 14 brothers who had survived the war arrived back in the Sepik District from Australia and were joined by 6 Franciscans who moved to the Aitape and Vanimo Districts, manning some SVD stations and moving inland over the Torrecelli Mountains.

The friars quickly consolidated and expanded their mission, which grew into the Vicariate and then the Diocese of Aitape.

Italian Franciscans expelled from China in 1952 continued their mission apostolate in Aitape. Franciscan Sisters joined the friars in 1949, followed over the next two decades by various congregations of Brothers and Sisters.

In 1981 the Spiritans sent priests to assist the diocese.
At present Bishop Otto Separy heads a team of 124 mission workers: priests, brothers, sisters and lay volunteers.

The diocese operates through three deanaries, with twenty-four parish centres serving 64,500 catholics in an area of 12,000 km2.

Steve W Labuan

I am Protestant. But Sir Brian is a figure who transcends religious demarcations. I see Sir Brian as a statesman and a pillar to the constitutional morals of this country.

Frank K Daosak

Some common sense advice there, from a true peoples champion of the people during his heydays, that seems to sadly evade some our leaders...

Steven Gimbo

He is a wise and gentle figure, and the Church today would still need his wise counsel, if not for Parkinson's Disease!

I have had many sit-ins and live interviews with him in my time as a media person in the Catholic Church. Having read the above, I can tell that he would like to say more, to elaborate on his points but he can't!

Yes, we love him, not only Catholics but those of other denominations as well because he was truly outspoken on many issues!

God bless you, Archbishop Emeritus Sir Brian Barnes!

Peter Kranz

Wise words from an accomplished, dedicated and gentle man, with the experience and knowledge of many years.

Well said, Friar Brian.

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