OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The President of Bishops: "Family in Melanesia is an intense network of relationships"

Friday, 3 October 2014

Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "Family in Melanesia lives weaknesses and particular complexities", said the Bishop of Wabag, His Exc. Mgr. Arnold Orowae, in a meeting in Port Moresby, a few hours before his departure for Rome, where he will participate in the Synod proclaimed by Pope Francis on the family. As Fides learns, the Bishop spoke in company with John and Lucy Lavu a Catholic couple, engaged in the family pastoral of the local church.
"People feel cut off from the Church when they cannot fully participate in her life, including the sacraments. We need a flexible approach in this sense, considering the variety of situations and the personal spiritual journey", said the Bishop.
In his speech at the Synod the Bishop explains that the idea of a "nuclear family" consisting of only parents and children, is a model that concerns a strictly Western culture and way of life. "We need to take into account - he said - that in many areas of the world, including Melanesia, the family is an intense and complex network of relationships, which include close and distant relatives. All these are part of it, they rejoice or suffer the success or failure of a marriage, they have the responsibility to help keep the family together". In Melanesia, in some matriarchal societies, the responsibility for education and the welfare of children, for example, is the hands of maternal uncles and aunts, rather than the biological father of the child.
In the note sent to Fides, the Bishop recognizes that among the difficulties and challenges that we are living in Melanesia, there is the question of polygamy, a practice contrary to the Christian revelation.
However, he asked to be patient: the local Church proposes "a gradual path so that the local population can overcome entrenched social customs and traditions". Epidemics, natural disasters, tribal fights - he added - sometimes create imbalance between the sexes and create the conditions for the existence of polygamy.
With regard to contraception, the Church tends to be with what is "natural". The couple engaged in pastoral family, John and Lucy Lavu, have pointed out that the methods of natural family planning are successful with couples who are engaged and motivated. Aggressive campaigns are often experienced in Melanesia regarding contraception and mass sterilization, promoted by international agencies, which reach adolescents, males and females in rural areas. "Many people, after experiencing it, come to us and are disappointed. We can advise and help them, but we cannot repair the damage they have done to their bodies", said Ms. Lavu. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 03/10/2014)