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Why are the churches empty? Is it modernisation or just laziness?

Inside a Catholic ChurchFIDELIS SUKINA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

WHEN I was small, my mum would take me to church on Sundays after which we’d meet relatives and play while wait for the adults to finish their conversations before going home.

My mother was a strong Catholic. She was a catechist and member of several devotional groups.

I was baptised in the same church and I still attend it in Port Moresby - Mary Queen of the Pacific at North Waigani.

In my pre-teen years, I enjoyed going to Sunday school and listening to the catechist and, when I reached the age of 12, I became an altar boy and every Sunday I’d sit through the whole service.

After I left my beloved church for university, coming back each year for holidays, the empty spaces started becoming more noticeable.

I too am guilty of not attending church regularly, like most people in modern day Papua New Guinea.

Christians are baptised and are expected to abide by the Ten Commandments, one of which is to keep holy the Sabbath Day.

I went on a drive with my dad to Morata a suburb in Port Moresby and saw it for myself, drunkards on Sunday Morning.

According to National Capital District law, liquor stores should be closed on Sunday. But in front of the stores, young men and women drink away while listening to local hits on a stereo provided by the shop owners. I wondered if these people were Catholics.

I sometimes think we are just too lazy to attend church but not lazy to booze and FaceBook throughout Sunday morning. I see people packing into the night clubs on Saturday night. Perhaps they forgot church was tomorrow….

We call ourselves a Christian country but Westernisation has taken over the generation that should next uphold the Christian faith. But wait, was it not westernisation which bought us Christianity?

In a 2011 Australian survey by Peter Wilkinsonof the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs found that only 10% of the total Catholic population of five million in Australia was attending Sunday service on a regular basis. Churchgoers aged 15-24 represented the lowest numbers.

I don’t know what the situation is in Papua New Guinea but, while hoping it does not go down the Australian road, the sad reality is that only the small and the middle aged are seen at church in numbers.

Perhaps living a Christian life is too much to handle; with the stress of work and family obligations we rarely have time to pray with the family.

Sunday service is the only time some of us have with God, to reflect and see if what we are doing is right in the eyes of God and the community.

Our local priest, during one of his sermons, said people have strayed away from church because they see it as normal,

He said people see others doing it and regard it as not being sinful.

So avoiding church is becoming normal in our society. Church-going is no longer a highly valued part of our daily lives.

All I know is that sin is sin. If the Bible says something is a sin, I know I have wronged.

All I can say is morality and ethical standards cannot take Christians to heaven unless we abide by the Ten Commandments.

Let’s just hope we keep the faith alive and pray for each other to enter the kingdom of heaven. 


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B Domovic

God does not live in a Church. People are not lazy, nor are they stupid.

People choose not to be associated with the Church and furthermore are embarrassed by the Church. They are ashamed to say they are Catholic because of the looks they will receive.

The Catholic Church is the most corrupt institution. Worse than all of the other corrupt institutions that cover up rather than admit mistakes and reveal the truth.

Instead of learning from past they silence others but yet they preach morality but cannot even examine their own conscience.

It asks for unblinded faith but yet it does not act in a way that is consistent with the Gospel. Corruption. Extortion. Cover Up.

Until the Church gets with the times and listens to its people they will continue to preach to empty pews.

Lindsay F Bond

Long long ago, did not clans stay together and even pray together?

Christianity and other creeds now invite citizens to ceremonies, but where ceremony brings joy and people show care, is only a beginning.

Commitment comes and continues where new and young people like to learn and they find help and example, encouraging and faithful to living with freedom of choice.

How to guide new and young people? Now they...kisim long laik. Loyalty conveys example of your faith for their choosing.

Fidelis Sukina

Lindsay, I didn't quite get what you are alluding to, but yep I believe being able to go to church depends on the community or society you live in.

Perhaps they influence your choices, a community that prays together stays together.

Fr Giorgio I believe that you are right, weakness in the guidance of youths and students, I see a lot of parents baptising their children and even adults getting baptised, these are the very ones who will need the guidance.

Being baptised is one thing but being committed needs guidance, perhaps people have the heart but lack of willingness to guide by priests and church leaders is the downfall.

Giorgio Licini

Many city churches and parishes, however, seem to be quite well attended with people very actively participating in prayer and liturgy.

The rural and traditional set-up may be more conducive for Sunday church attendance. In the modern world a very high level of empathy, communication and closeness to people is probably needed by the priests, pastors, and lay leaders.

This can at least partially make up for that sense of community and belongingness that may be become lost with a more independent and private way of life in modern society.

Common weaknesses of the Catholic Church (in my observation) in many instances: poor performance and dedication by priests, very limited pastoral care of students and youth, limited sense of community, participation and involvement beyond the Sunday service.

Lindsay F Bond

Societal commandments once grew individual intent ‘abide-ments’, seamlessly.

Seemingly now, cohesion ruptured, choice enables yet exposes edges to intent.

Fidelis, (a name meaning loyalty and exactness), communicates his intent and invitation.

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