Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "It is our maximum responsibility to give adequate formation to the laity and to enable them to exercise their special role in the life and mission of the Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands": said the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr. Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, addressing the Bishops on the occasion of the 61st Annual General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (PNGSI). "Although there are so many challenges to face, we are blessed with so many faithful devotees who live their faith daily in difficult situations, and we must focus and invest more in them", continued the Nuncio, urging the Bishops to reflect on their commitment towards the laity.
Archbishop Vayalunkal continued: "As Bishops we reach out to touch the hearts of the abandoned, marginalized, ignored and excluded, in an attempt to uplift these people and restore their dignity and legitimate place in society", encouraging Church leaders to "go in search of the lost, the last and the marginalized". "The courage of those who approach Jesus in the Gospel is a great lesson for everyone. We too must learn to go to him, to seek his merciful face. Jesus felt pity and reached out to help", he said, remembering the words of the leper who in the Gospel of Matthew approaches Jesus saying "Lord, if you want, you can heal me".
Addressing the Bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio thanked them for their collaboration in the midst of many challenges, spoke of the important role that lay people have played in the formation and works of the Church and urged the laity to implement their diocesan pastoral plans. He then called for mutual support, assistance and collegiality among the Bishops, the care of priests who live in isolation in remote places while taking care of the people of God in multiple parishes. Speaking of "vocational promotion", he also highlighted the need to take care of families who are the foundation of vocations.
Mgr. Vayalunkal then concluded his speech by thanking the Lord for protecting Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands from the disaster of the pandemic and shared the "Decalogue" that Pope Francis presented to all the Papal Representatives on June 13, 2019. "The Bishop must be a man of the Church and a man of God, a man of apostolic zeal and a man of reconciliation, a man of the pope and a man of initiative, a man of obedience and a person of prayer, a man of charity and a man of humility ".
The assembly meeting of Bishops, centered on the theme "Our lay Catholics: saints and sent to service" began on June 23 and will end on July 3 in Waigani. For the occasion, 17 bishops of Catholic dioceses have gathered throughout the country. The Bishops of the Solomon Islands were unable to participate because of the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus. The Assembly was scheduled for April, but was postponed due to lockdown measures approved by the government to contain the Covid-19 epidemic in the country. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 26/6/2020)