OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Church calls for authentic alliance with the State, especially with regards to social policy

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Goroka (Agenzia Fides) – State and Church in Papua New Guinea should find "authentic alliance": This is what the Christian community in Papua New Guinea calls for, after the celebration of the "National Day of Alliance", which is celebrated on August 26 as a special day of prayer and penance, to publicly reaffirm the mutual recognition between the Christian Churches and the State. As reported in a note sent to Fides by the Social Communications Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, yesterday, in Goroka, in the course of the ceremony, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and other MPs praised the Churches "for being partners in the provision of services and for their contribution to the development of the nation". Some, such as the governor of Goroka, Julie Soso, went further, recalling the bill that intends to ban non-Christian religions in Papua New Guinea. A bill, which was opposed by the Church, always in favor of religious freedom. The Bishops' note explains to Fides: "The Churches do not agree with the death penalty. I do not agree on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. I do not agree with many of the policies in education. I am not happy of how public funds are being used and abused".
"True partnership between the Churches and the State, therefore, does not really exist in Papua New Guinea", the statement said. "What is taking place is a remnant of the colonial structure, or more precisely missionary age" when, a century ago, the white missionaries arrived in the Pacific to help establish the first services of education and health services, building schools and hospitals, still today managed in collaboration with the government. If the State really wants to give value to the Churches, then it should "involve them seriously in the legislative process, in the definition of policies and in the control of public funds," say the Bishops.
For the Day of Alliance, celebrations and public events were held in various cities, attended by many Christian citizens, who prayed for the civilian leaders of the nation. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/08/2013)