Churches & religion Feed

Catholic bishop plans legal action over Tennent deportation


THE Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea is planning legal action against the acting chief migration officer Solomon Kantha over what it says was the illegal deportation of religious layworker, Doug Tennent.

Mr Tennent was working for the Archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo (pictured), helping landowners battling a multi-national logger and palm oil company, Rimbunan Hijau.

Mr Tennent, a New Zealander, was bundled onto a plane and deported despite a stay order being presented to immigration personnel by senior church officials, including the Vatican ambassador.

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Three missionaries deported & the churches are quiet

DeportedSAM KOIM

THE hasty deportation of three missionaries in separate suspicious circumstances should not go without a challenge. Where is the Christian community?

Touching a missionary touches the core of Christianity in Papua New Guinea. It is expected that churches would rise up and condemn such actions regardless of which church the expelled missionary came from.

The deportation of one missionary should be considered an attack on Christianity in PNG.

It’s a week since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs deported the three missionaries but the silence of the Church is deafening. Where is the so called PNG Council of Churches or the de facto Body of Christ?

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PNG owes much to its missionaries (Mr Pato please take note)


FOREIGN Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato should be ashamed of himself if he gave the approval for lay missionary Douglas Tennent to be deported from Papua New Guinea.

Missionaries appear to be his targets for deportation. There have been a number of other cases.

The minister should know that Catholic and Lutheran missionaries were the first to bring essential services like health and education to his own Enga Province in the late 1940s.

Rimbink (pictured here) himself attended St Paul’s Lutheran High, the first to be established near his village in Wapenamanda by missionaries.

Continue reading "PNG owes much to its missionaries (Mr Pato please take note)" »

Deported NZ missionary wants clarity from PNG Immigration


A NEW Zealand missionary deported from Papua New Guinea says he wants PNG Immigration to spell out to him how he breached his visa.

Despite a court order staying his deportation, Douglas Tennent (pictured) was forced to leave PNG on Monday after being told on Friday by immigration officials he was abusing the conditions of his religious worker visa.

Mr Tennent had been working at the Rabaul archdiocese where among his roles was helping local people affected by multi-national Rimbunan Hijau's palm oil operations.

Now back in New Zealand, Mr Tennent said he wants just two things.

"One of them is to return to PNG to continue my work with the archdiocese in helping local people on infrastructure and land issues," he said.

Continue reading "Deported NZ missionary wants clarity from PNG Immigration" »

Lay missionary expelled: ‘corruption beyond remedy’

Archbishop PanfiloKEITH JACKSON

AN expatriate lay missionary had his entry permit revoked and was deported from Papua New Guinea today because of what the government alleges is a “blatant abuse” of his visa “by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

And the Catholic Archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo SDB (pictured), has asked if this means “the level of corruption reached by the government is beyond remedy?”

Archbishop Panfilo said Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at UPNG, came to East New Britain as a lay missionary with an entry permit as a ‘special exemption/religious worker’.

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Religion may be a bugger, but a mother’s love transcends


STEPHEN Fry was threatened with prosecution for blasphemy over comments he made about God being evil for allowing bone cancer in children.

In Jakarta Governor Ahok has been sent to gaol for suggesting the Koran doesn't forbid Muslims for voting for a Christian.

And in Papua New Guinea and Australia we have paedophiles hiding under the skirts of the church.

This is all disturbing, but one memory particularly haunts me.

Continue reading "Religion may be a bugger, but a mother’s love transcends" »

Archbishop Brian's remains to be interred at St Didacus, Aitape

Emeritus Archbishop Sir Brian Barnes OFMFRANCISCAN FRIARS | Order of Friars Minor

IT IS with great sadness that the Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Holy Spirit announce the death of Emeritus Archbishop Sir Brian Barnes OFM (1933-2017).

Brian James Patrick Barnes was born at Wingham in New South Wales on 23 March 1933 to Arthur Keith Barnes and Eileen Barnes. He joined the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) in 1951 and was first professed on 18 February 1952. He was ordained a priest on 12 July 1958.

As Father Brian Barnes, he was appointed to the mission of Papua New Guinea in October 1959. He served as Assistant Priest in Aitape when he first arrived in the PNG Missions. He then served as Headmaster at Seleo Island and as a parish priest in Monandin, Nuku, Wati, Ningil and Lumi from 1960 until 1968.

In 1968 he was appointed as chaplain to the police of the Royal PNG Constabulary. He was based in Port Moresby but travelled extensively throughout Papua New Guinea. He served as the police chaplain from 1968 until 1988 when he took up his appointment as a bishop of the diocese of Aitape.

Continue reading "Archbishop Brian's remains to be interred at St Didacus, Aitape" »

An Easter message from my teacher and first missionary


LAST week I started sending Easter greetings to a few friends.

One was Jim Fenton, an Australian. He was the patrol officer who in 1960established Kandep patrol post in what is now Enga Province.

The other was American missionary, Fr Jerry Gerald Theis SVD (pictured), who established the first mission station at at Pindak village, later moving to the present location at Mariant in Kandep.

I attended the government primary school but absconded when Fr Theis started Mariant Catholic Mission primary school near my village of Kondo. I didn’t like walking to Kandep every morning in the cold with barely any clothing covering my body. Fr Theis was my teacher at Mariant.

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Morata mothers recruited to offer door-to-door prayers for cash


LIFE is getting acutely more dreadful each passing day in Papua New Guinea and this has finally pushed some morally upright people’s civic virtue to the cliff-edge.

It seems that pious papists are now willing to be two-faced, just like most of the fat cats, arrow men (police) and their Asian masters.

In fact, some devout people have begun to craft bizarre techniques to make ends meet. One such group is a gang of Catholic mothers in Morata, along with their padre.

Instead of doing something useful in their houses such as sewing clothes and baking scones, or fishing and gardening in the Morata Swamps, we hear they have been instructed by the parish priest to visit families in their homes and pray for them in return for money.

Continue reading "Morata mothers recruited to offer door-to-door prayers for cash" »

Christmas for atheists


I WAS about eight years old when I realised that organised religion was a giant confidence trick.

The thing that made me aware of this was my mother’s plan to send me to the local Catholic school. We’d just moved out of the migrant hostel after arriving in Australia from England and I was bound to a new school.

Although my father was an atheist he was a nominal Catholic, and had succumbed to family pressure to marry in the church.

My mother, abiding by church rules, had converted from Methodism to Catholicism. That marriage and conversion carried a mandatory commitment to raise children as Catholics. Such was the power of the church in those days.

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Lae Diocese: from a goldfields church to 30,000 parishioners

Lae Diocese celebrates 50 yearsVATICAN RADIO

THE Catholic Diocese of Lae celebrated its golden anniversary last month with a celebration at St Mary’s Primary School.

The joyful milestone was punctuated by various cultural representations and witnessed by thousands of faithful from the diocese and well-wishers including visitors from outside Papua New Guinea.

The Apostolic Nuncio of PNG and the Solomon Islands, Archbishop Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, was the main celebrant and several bishops and priests concelebrated the Holy Eucharist.

Archbishop Vayalunkal solemnly blessed the diocese and its people and paid special tribute to past and present missionaries for the fruit of their labour which is visible in Morobe Province.

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Why Susan was suspended after reading at the Papal Mass

Susan Kenga holding Pidgin New Testament, Papal Mass, Mt Hagen 1984GARRY ROCHE

IN MAY 1984, Pope John Paul II visited Port Moresby and Mt Hagen, celebrating mass in Hagen before a huge crowd in the place now called Pope’s Oval.

Naturally a lot of preparation went into the Eucharistic celebration: choirs, procession groups, dancers, readers and altar servers spent many hours readying for this important occasion.

Holy Trinity Teachers College was asked to provide two students for the second reading at the Mass.

Susan Kenga was chosen as the main reader with the other student standing by in case Susan became ill or could not be there.

Susan was from Kamaga in the Western Highlands, on the highway from Hagen to Tomba and Enga Province.

Continue reading "Why Susan was suspended after reading at the Papal Mass" »

Aitape Diocese marks another milestone in its fine history

Bishop Separy (right) farewells an employeeROB PARER

ON TUESDAY the Diocese of Aitape celebrated its golden jubilee. Fifty years ago Franciscan Bishop Ignatius Doggett OFM had become the first Bishop of the Aitape Diocese.

Priot to this, on 15 May 1952, Monsignor Ignatius Doggett OFM had been installed in charge of Prefecture Apostolic of Aitape.

Following him was Bishop William Rowell OFM in 1970, Bishop Brian Barnes OFM 1988, Bishop Austen Crapp OFM 1999 and now Bishop Otto Separy of East Sepik (pictured on right), who was consecrated on 30 October 2007 and is the present Bishop of Aitape.

In 1946, some 18 priests and 14 brothers who had survived World War II arrived back in the Sepik District from Australia and were joined by six Franciscans who moved to the Aitape and Vanimo Districts manning some SVD mission stations and moving inland over the Torricelli Mountains.

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Visit of Our Lady of Fatima helps unite Bougainville

Dr Momis leads a crowd paying its respectsANTHONY KAYBING

THE VISIT of the iconic Our Lady of Fatima statue to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has been a phenomenon that has united Bougainvilleans across the once troubled region.

Scores of Roman Catholics poured into churches across the Bougainville Diocese and many more lined the streets and highways as the faithful came together.

Catholicism remains the dominant church on Bougainville comprising about 70% of the population.

Leading the faithful from the beginning has been President John Momis, a staunch Catholic, who praised the initiative Bougainvilleans took to welcome Our Lady of Fatima.

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First cardinal to represent PNG's Catholics in 'small places'

Cardinal-designate John RibatJONATHAN LUXMOORE | Catholic News Service

PAPUA New Guinea's first cardinal John Ribat believes his appointment highlights Pope Francis’s wish for Catholics to be treated equally from all parts of the world.

"He's been very true to his word that he's not looking at the traditional places where cardinals have been appointed in the past, but going beyond that and wanting a fairer representation," said Cardinal-elect John Ribat, 59, archbishop of Port Moresby.

"He wants to say the church is for the poor, and that's how he sees it in his mind and wants to show it now in practice, not only through the traditional places, but also reaching out to small places," he said about his nomination as the first-ever cardinal from the South Pacific country, which has 853 registered languages and a mostly rural population.

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Non-believers in the belief system: Sectarian saints I have met

First church at Tami IslandPHIL FITZPATRICK

WE ALL know about people who profess to be Christians but act as if they don’t know the meaning of the word. Politicians are particularly good at this.

There is another side to this coin, but unfortunately these good people are less visible.

There are many version of Christianity and plenty of divergence in what it means to be a Christian.

In my time, I’ve known a couple of priests who were agnostic and at least one who was an atheist.

I also once met a nun in the Star Mountains who seemed unsure about her faith and the existence of a god.

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Churches put conflict behind them & unite with a handshake

Bishop Bernard Unabali and Bishop Rev Tim ArthurANTHONY KAYBING

THE BOUGAINVILLE Region of the United Church celebrated its centenary in the Siwai District last week.

Over the course of the history of Christianity in Bougainville over those 100 years, there have been differences amongst the churches.

Their respective religious practices and have sometimes caused animosity, especially between the mainline Roman Catholic and United churches.

Over recent years the friction has subsided, although there are some people who discreetly harbour archaic emotions.

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Many politicians Christian in name only, says Momis

President Momis hands the grant to Bishop Tim ArthurANTHONY KAYBING

BOUGAINVILLE’S president John Momis has said many of Papua New Guinea’s politicians are ill-prepared for public office and “Christians in name only”.

The president was speaking at a ceremony in South Bougainville in which the Autonomous Bougainville Government provided a K350,000 grant to the United Church as part of its drive to recognise churches as important development partners.

“A Christian leader must live by Christian principles; the end does not justify the means,” D r Momis said.

The grant was given in conjunction with the 100 year celebrations of the United Church in the Siwai District.

President John Momis commended the United Church in Bougainville for reaching this milestone in the history of the denomination.

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Schools of St Mary’s Asitavi mark 60 tumultuous years

President Momis is welcomed by a studentANTHONY KAYBING

ST MARY’S Asitavi Secondary School is one of the most respected high schools in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

In the presence of Bougainville's President John Momis, the all-girl secondary school recently celebrated its Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) in a three-day event to commemorate the legacy of a school that has had a long and colourful history.

The school was founded in 1956 by the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary amidst much controversy, as the practice of having an all-female institution was not entirely accepted in those days.

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Bishop Francesco Sarego celebrates final mass before handover

Bishop FrancescoBOMAI D WITNE

THE CATHOLIC church dedicates August as the month of the bible and Catholics everywhere are called to read the good book with renewed energy, zeal and commitment to prayer.

This year’s theme is ‘listen to God’s heartbeat in the bible’. For Christians, God speaks to us in the bible and, when we read the bible, meditate and listen deeper, we can feel God’s heart beat in his words.

In Goroka, Bishop Francesco Sarego, in one of his final homilies, challenged parishioners of St Mary of Help Kefamo to make the gospel become a reality in their lives.

“If you don’t read your bibles, it is useless,” Bishop Sarego observed. “The words of God do not reach your hearts. Read your bibles and let it open your hearts.”

The bishop concluded that Jesus was a model in serving others; he lived a life of serving, sharing and caring for others. Jesus revealed God’s infinite mercy for mankind.

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Fr Sieland defies challenges in ministering to his remote flock

Fr Christian SielandPatheos Catholic News | Edited extracts

EVERY weekend deep in Melanesia, a Papua New Guinea Catholic priest walks miles along rough bush tracks and scales steep mountainous terrain to reach his remote flock in the poorest parishes.

“These people live in a difficult and rugged terrain,” says Fr Christian Sieland of the Kundiawa Diocese. “God has put them there. It is their home.

“All the material used to build their church was carried by their grandfathers on their shoulders. They are proud to have the presence of the Church in their area,” Fr Sieland said.

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Much-loved Adventist leader Geoffrey Pomaleu dies at 54

Geoffrey Pomaleu (Adventist Record)KENT KINGSTON | South Pacific Adventist Record

GEOFFREY Pomaleu, the leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea, has died after collapsing at a camp for pastors’ children.

Pastor Pomaleu, who was elected president of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission last September, had dealt with a number of serious health issues in recent months.

He had a bowel operation earlier this year and was rushed to hospital in May after experiencing severe chest pains.

After a period of recovery and with prescribed medication, he was able to return to work with light duties.

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Those ratbag Christians: many are glorious; some are chaff

NewguineachristianPHIL FITZPATRICK

SINCE its inception PNG Attitude had scoured a wide range of publications for material of interest to readers. Relevant articles were largely republished on the blog without comment.

Among all of those articles, two types tended to attract vigorous comment. The first were those from the tabloid presses that saw subjects like primitiveness, sorcery and cannibalism as attractive to its sensation-seeking readers.

The second was akin to this but decidedly more sinister. It came from missionaries, particularly those involved in fundamentalist causes.

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Religious leaders must not be mouthpieces for politicians


AS pillars of the spiritual community, religious leaders should speak out and shine the light on greed and corruption in public offices in Papua New Guinea.

The work of the religious leaders is to build God’s church on earth. As a practical matter, spreading the Good News occurs through worshipping in church buildings, operating schools, providing medical clinics and operating business arms to supplement their operations.

These are honourable and charitable deeds designed for our physical and intellectual nourishment.  In fact, I am humbled and eternally thankful for being a direct beneficiary of such mission efforts.

Managing mission infrastructure requires considerable capital and operating funds. Financially strapped, religious leaders have frequently turned to politicians as a source for donations.

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Mendi Diocese discusses dreams, visions & the mission

Catholic Mission lay leaders from Mendi (Fr Isaiah Timba)BISHOP DONALD LIPPERT | Catholic Diocese of Mendi

LAY leaders from all the parishes and pastoral areas of the Catholic Diocese of Mendi have come together for the annual meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

They were convoked by the bishop and joined by representatives of consecrated religious and the heads of the various diocesan secretariats to evaluate social conditions and pastoral practice of the past year and set the agenda for 2016.

Each member had the opportunity to give a brief situation report of their parish community, then ideas were offered regarding the observance of the Jubilee of Mercy and the Golden Jubilee of the diocese.  Many creative ideas were shared.

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New head bishop for PNG’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Rev Jack UrameONE PNG

THE Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea has a new head bishop.

Reverend Jack Urame from Goroka District was elected by the 30th synod of the church held at Heldsbach near Finschhafen in Morobe Province.

Reverend Urame replaces the outgoing head, Bishop Giegere Wenge.

An exhaustive voting system by 510 delegates from 17 church districts led to the outcome.

Lucas Kidabing from Yabim District was voted in as Assistant Bishop replacing Reverend Zao Rapa and General Secretary Albert Toakave was replaced by Bernard Kaisom from Karkar District.

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A pauper’s burial: The unknown dead of PNG

An unknown PNGnFR PHILIP GIBBS SVD | Divine Word Magazine

PEOPLE in Papua New Guinea have a great respect for the dead. Relatives and friends feel obliged to attend a funeral even at great expense. 

When a person dies in a distant location far from their home, relatives will look for ways to bring the body “home” so that it can be buried close to them. 

The intentions are admirable, though at times there is a sense of fear also, lest the spirit of the dead be offended and return as a ghost to haunt people or even to cause them to get sick or die.

As is common throughout the world burial of the dead is an important ministry for the Church. Parish priests will celebrate a funeral mass and officiate at the burial.

Where a priest is not available, which often happens because of the large parishes with many “outstations”, the catechist or another lay-minister will offer prayers during the burial.

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Despite sorcery dangers, Church reaches out to villagers

The Bishop of Mendi, Donald Lippert, and sistersJO-ANNE ROWNEY | Catholic Herald

THE Catholic Church has a unique role in combating belief in sorcery and mob reprisal attacks against sorcerers, a bishop in Papua New Guinea has said.

A shocking video emerged last week reportedly showing the torture of women suspected of witchcraft and accused of “invisibly” taking out a man’s heart after he fell ill in August.

The footage shows at least four women being stripped, tied up, burned and beaten, as they are prodded and threatened with machetes by men who shout questions at them. It is thought at least one died following the attack.

One woman pleads for her life, calling out “My son, stop it!” while another cries out “I’ve got nothing to do with it. I am the mother of five children.”

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MSP leader challenges PNG to aspire to do mission work overseas

Fr Eladio Oliver meeting with a family during the celebrationsFIDELIS SUKINA

LAST Sunday was a day of celebration for the parishioners of Mary Queen of the Pacific. It marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP).

The Filipino community in Port Moresby and members of the church held a mass together and followed this with food and entertainment.

The Society itself founded by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in 1965, which saw a need to expand its mission work to neighbouring countries.

The Mary Queen of the Pacific Parish is located at North Waigani in Port Moresby. It has been part of the MSP mission since its arrival in 1981, work that has since extended to Kerema, Daru, Kiunga, Vanimo and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The main celebrant was Fr Eladio B Oliver MSP, who was a parish priest in PNG and has since become MSP’s Father Moderator and Superior General.

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Catholic Church assists with worst drought crisis in 20 years

Children in Algi VillagePETER BUGDEN | The Catholic Leader

CHURCH agencies and religious orders are hurrying to the aid of Papua New Guinea, suffering hunger and disease through its worst drought in almost 20 years.

Severe frosts combined with drought have wiped out subsistence crops in highland areas and people have begun to die.

Media reports said villagers in some areas were facing months without food if they do not receive help.

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The early Filipino missionaries & boat builder Francis Castro


HIS name was Francis Castro. A robust and sturdy man with strong hands. A boat builder of Cuban descent from the island of Panay in Antique Province of the Philippines.

During the 1880s, Francis Castro along with 13 highly trained Filipino catechists accompanied European priests headed by Fr Alain de Boismenu to Yule Island in Papua.

The other Filipinos were Marcello Fabila, Nicholas Albaniel, Juan Dela Cruz, Gregorio Toricheba,  Telesforo Babao, Gregorio Ramos, Emmanuel Natera, Diego Rendall, Bernadino Taligatus, Juan Malabag, Cirilio Espinosa, Anastacio Buen Suseso and Basilio Artango.

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PNG takes a public holiday to torch ‘demonic’ traditional carvings

The discarded parliamentary carved headsROWAN CALLICK | The Australian | Extracts

YESTERDAY was Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea, when highlights include the public burning of traditional carvings used in what the organisers call “idol worship and witchcraft”.

The day also, bizarrely, featured a national collection of money as an “Aliyah” offering — to promote the migration of Jewish people to Israel, which some American evangelical Christians view as a prerequisite for the ­second coming of Christ.

The day was a public holiday, marked by “prayer ceremonies” across the country.

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Why is it that in PNG we have to destroy everything of our history?


Pastoral letter to all the faithful of Vanimo Diocese, Sandaun Province

WE were surprised to read in The National newspaper that, on 26 August, there will be a Solemn Assembly program which “includes burning of objects used in idol worship and witchcraft as well as collecting the Aliyah Offering".

Since many Catholics came to us asking for clarification, we are obliged to give some explanations and directions to our Catholic people regarding what they found on pages 32 and 41 of the newspaper.

We understand that this is not a program of the Government of Papua New Guinea. It appears to be a private program and personal initiative of somebody who wants to use the name of the honorable office of the Speaker of Parliament to promote private beliefs.

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Services & chaplaincy in one of Anglican's remotest villages

Villagers of Pivo outside the Chapel of Saint FrancisANGLICAN COMMUNION NEWS SERVICE

AN Anglican chapel dedicated to Saint Francis will shortly be dedicated in the village of Pivo – one of the most remote villages served by the global Anglican Communion.

And the diocese of Port Moresby in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, is also building an elementary school and an education centre providing adult literacy skills.

The remoteness of the village, in Gulf Province, can be seen by the tortuous journey undertaken by the Bishop of Port Moresby, the Rt Rev Denny Guka, and three Melanesian Brothers to reach Pivo this month.

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I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: Part Two, 1944

The graves of the Missionary SistersKEN WRIGHT

THE Japanese armed forces did not always act in a brutal manner or have callous disregard for the lives of civilians and prisoners of war during World War II. But, sadly, such acts of humanity were rare.

The following abridged description is taken from the diary of Father John Tschauder SVD who, on 6 February 1944, describes a voyage on the Dorish Maru carrying captured Catholic missionaries to Hollandia in former Dutch New Guinea.

The name Dorish Maru was a pidginized version of the Yorishime Maru  because the missionaries didn’t understand the Japanese pronunciation and ‘maru’ meaning merchant ship.

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Thousands of people get free Adventist healthcare in Bereina

Bereina Mission 15ANDREW McCHESNEY | Adventist Review

THOUSANDS of people received free medical services in Papua New Guinea during a two-week effort by the local Seventh-day Adventist Church to share Jesus through actions rather than words.

More than 300 patients received dental services and general health checks daily at a special clinic run by more than 50 doctors and nurses during the Bereina Mission 15 project.

Bereina is a town of 1,800 people 160 kilometers northwest of Port Moresby. Doctors also performed more than 30 surgeries.

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Kefamo communicates Pope’s message on the environment

Mary Help of Christians Parish, Kefamo, retreatBOMAI D WITNE

THE issues surrounding climate change are real and different human communities across the globe are taking various approaches to deal with the resulting challenges.

In the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has used an encyclical, Laudato Si mi Signore (Praise be to you my Lord), to extend the thoughts of St Francis of Assisi and other popes on the need for people to care for the world’s environment.

Pope Francis reiterated St Francis’s words that the earth is a common home for humanity and is like a sister with whom humanity shares life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace humanity.

In the encyclical, among many thoughts, Pope Francis challenged the current generation of humanity to think seriously about the kind of world it is creating and leaving for its children and those who come after them.

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Church fights witch killings in PNG: “Surely it will come to an end”

New Zealand-born Fr Philip Gibbs SVD has spent more than 40 years working in PNGRAY CAVANAUGH | New Zealand Catholic

SOME people may find it hard to believe that witch-hunting would occur in the 21st century. But it wreaks havoc still in some parts of the world.

In Papua New Guinea, witch hunts have seen a grisly resurgence, with an increased brutality in methods of punishment. Now, the Catholic Church there is trying to curb those practices, which are reported to be claiming up to 150 lives a year.

Fr Philip Gibbs (pictured), a priest, anthropologist and researcher, said the Catholic Church has been conducting workshops in parishes to raise awareness about the issue and how it is totally contrary to the Christian response to misfortune and death.

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PNG’s boom in Muslim converts linked to traditional customs

Muslim community instruction, Port MoresbyROWAN CALLICK | The Australian

ISLAM is growing rapidly in Papua New Guinea, converts finding Muslim customs have more in common with their traditions than Christianity.

Melbourne University academic Scott Flower says all 73 Muslim converts he interviewed in PNG for new research had cited an affinity with Muslim practices as the main reason for their switch from Christianity.

The Islamic Society of PNG, the first Muslim body in the country, was founded in 1981, and recorded that by 1986 four Papua New Guineans had pronounced the “Sahadah”, the Act of Faith, to become Muslims.

The Islamic Society estimates the number of Muslims has risen to more than 4,000. PNG’s only substantial mosque, built with Saudi Arabian help, is in the Port Moresby suburb of Hohola.

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The King James Bible & the many meanings of the word of God


THE arrival of the early King James version of the Bible and the plan to “enthrone” it in Parliament offers a good opportunity to reflect on the real meaning of the word of God and its significance for Papua New Guinea.

Parliamentary Speaker Zurenuoc and others often appear to use “Bible” and “word of God” interchangeably. When this particular translation of the scriptures is placed in the Parliament he says that the “word of God” is placed in the Parliament.

We suggest that it is a mistake to identify God’s word only with written words in a holy book in a way that could border on Bible idolatry.  Therefore we feel it is important to clarify the term.

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I will be asking your foreign God for a refund on the bible

God made weedMARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

SO.... that 400 year old story book about a zombie has finally arrived in Papua New Guinea with a rousing welcome from part-time Christians and corrupt politicians.

I wonder what the man Jesus would think about spending thousands of kina on a junket trip to the United States whilst children beg for food on the streets of Port Moresby and Lae.

Yes there is theological basis for doing Him a favour once in while by pouring expensive perfume on His feet, but I think the man would consider the reverence shown towards a 400 year old foreign book a little bit over the top and nearly equivalent to idolatry.

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That an old bible in parliament can transform PNG is a fraud

The bible arrives in PNG (PNG Loop)DAVID EPHRAIM

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

AFTER the signing of Covenant between Somare and God in 2007, a few years later we find ourselves with Speaker Zurenuoc removing parliamentary carvings in his holy crusade to remove evil from the state house.

Fast forward to now, and Zurenuoc returns with a 400-year old bible donated by a deceased missionary in the United States. Many thousands of Papua New Guineans brave the hot sun to welcome the holy book.

The idea that adapting Christian norms and practices will transform Papua New Guinea is not a new notion. These pastors in the photograph and others have been stating that since Independence.

Nearly eight years on, we arrive at a spiritual awakening that highlights a society weakened by cargo cultism.

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Catholic bishops pronounce on sport (& Sunday mornings)

Dika-toua-png-flagBISHOP ARNOLD OROWAE | Catholic Bishops Conference

WITH the Pacific Games coming soon to Papua New Guinea, sport will be a topic of interest for many people. At this time we wish to offer a reflection on the value of sport and ways that we can all benefit.

The Catholic Church recognises sport to be one of the great institutions of our society that helps individuals realise their human potential and builds up the bonds of the community, fostering communal initiative and responsibility.

Sport contributes to physical and mental health and wellbeing.  It teaches people, particularly young people skills and resilience. When youth become involved in sport, they devote their energies to teaming together in a healthy environment, forgetting about antisocial activities such as violence and crime.

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Evil of capital punishment: Bishops pronounce on death penalty

Orowae_Bishop Arnold (Wabag)BISHOP ARNOLD OROWAE | Catholic Bishops Conference

IN 1991 the Papua New Guinea Parliament reintroduced the death penalty.  Direct killing by the State became an authorized way to punish a criminal. 

In 2013 the Criminal Code was changed to set out the acceptable ways to do it: to hang, suffocate, electrocute, shoot or poison someone with a deadly injection.  The government argued that this is the best way to protect society from the repetition of terrible crimes.

When Malipu Balakau, a politician, was murdered in 1989 and when Kepari Leniata was burned to death in 2013, people reacted by saying that the killer deserved to be killed. 

It is in response to this political legislation and this popular reaction that we, the bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, are addressing this letter in defence of life to the leaders of our nations but also to all those who want to do what God wants of us and to promote a genuine peace and order in our communities.

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Christians in Goroka gather at Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross in GorokaBOMAI D WITNE

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

THE Catholic, Lutheran, United Church and Anglican churches got together on Good Friday to emulate the way of the cross and remember the life and journey of Jesus.

The way of the cross is a tradition that reminds members of how Jesus took the cross from Pontius Pilot and carried it to Golgotha to be crucified and die. There are 14 stations of the cross and each has a message for Christians. 

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An Easter reflection

Kids-running-happyPETER KRANZ

EASTER should be the most important celebration in Christian tradition.

After all, it celebrates the death and resurrection of the redeemer - the central point of the Christian religion.

In the New Testament, redemption is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.

But why does religious belief bring about so much argument, conflict and hatred?

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Church of the poor? Toktok tasol!

H&SFR JOHN M GLYNN | WeCare Foundation

THE spiritually poor need above all to have a sense of belonging and of being loved, valued, and cared for. It is only when we experience being loved, valued and cared for that we are able to love ourselves.

It is only then that we can come to love, value and care for others, and this leads to loving God. Jesus calls on us to ‘Love God, and your neighbour as yourself(e.g. Mk.12:30,31). The spiritual journey leads from myself - the acceptance of Christ in me, through my neighbour - the experience of Christ in the world, to God - the discovery of God in Christ.

The spiritually poor need to be lead on this journey from self through the world to God, and this journey can be supported by giving them the experience of pastoral care.

Devotional practice - worship, prayer, liturgical exercises - does not equate to, or substitute for, the spiritual life. Love must come before lotu.

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PNG government’s perverse neglect of informal schooling

PNG-Early-Childhood-EducationFR JOHN GLYNN

THE Out-Of-School-Children approach is what I call a Top-Down approach to the problem of kids not going to school.

It requires a lot of preliminary work to be done before direct action can be taken to deal with the problem.

It requires a lot of planning, forums, workshops, brainstorming, report writing, development of strategies and so on before approvals can be sought, funding secured and implementation begun. In the meantime, a lot of children continue out of school.

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Archbishop John Ribat comes out against betel nut ban

Betel nut ban signRadio New Zealand International

THE head of the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea has spoken against the ban on public sale and consumption of betel nut in Port Moresby.

Catholic Archbishop John Ribat was speaking about a number of deaths related to the smuggling and selling of betel nut, or buai, in the national capital.

He was reported as saying the sale of buai must not be banned but controlled as it is a way many people earn a living.

Archbishop Ribat said other provinces have managed to control the sale and consumption of buai without a ban.

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Church leaders condemn PNG government death penalty decision

Gallows -Lahore-PakistanPapua New Guinea Today

PAPUA New Guinea’s church leaders have condemned the government’s decision to implement the death penalty.

It has been revealed that some 13 people on death row in Papua New Guinea are expected to be executed this year after the Cabinet endorsed proposed guidelines for the death penalty.

Secretary of the Department of Justice, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, told the media that the government had approved the establishment of an inter-agency committee to oversee its implementation.

The announcement was received with hostility by the PNG Church Leaders Council.

"We believe that all human life is God-given and that no one, including the State, should take upon itself the right to end a life,” the Council said in a media statement

It added that there is also evidence proving that, even in the best processes of justice, mistakes sometimes happen. It is unthinkable that a potentially innocent person be condemned to death.

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