Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Bishops of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, have gathered in Port Moresby from 11 to 18 April in an assembly that is focused on Pope Francis’ encyclical "Laudato Sì". There are about 75 participants, all members of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conference of Oceania (FCBCO). As Fides learns, a warm welcome was given in particular to the arrival of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. Despite the rain, together with the Apostolic Nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Mgr. Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, and Cardinal John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, over 300 people, religious and lay faithful, went to the airport to welcome him early in the morning. The joyful and enthusiastic presence of the local faithful profoundly affected Mgr. Parolin, and on greeting everyone, said: "I come as Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Francis and I know that your welcome is also a sign of your affection for him. The Holy Father asked me to assure you of his closeness and his prayers for your country. We hope to be able to share a profound experience of the love of God ".
The theme for the meeting is "Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities". "The speeches - explained Fr. Victor Roche, Secretary of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Papua New Guinea, in a note sent to Fides - will help to find an answer to the environmental and social challenges we are facing, to find a concrete solution for the needs of our regions and the communities we represent".
The Bishops of these remote countries are concerned about environmental issues, such as the care of the ocean ecosystem, and the protection of human rights and the environment, threatened by an economy of intense exploitation of this vast geographical area. The issues that are worrying this corner of the globe are not exclusively linked to the care of the environment: issues such as migration and the hospitality of refugees push the Bishops of countries like Australia and Papua New Guinea in search of solutions that foster integration and reception, respecting the human dignity of all. The Assembly of Bishops of the Federation of Bishops of Oceania is held every four years. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2018)