Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - Symbolic objects to indicate peace and mutual forgiveness, such as banknotes attached to a twig; leaves of a specific tree planted as a sign of recovered trust; Areca nuts exchanged to repair the evil between the parties in conflict: these are some of the objects placed in front of the altar on the occasion of the traditional "Day of Repentance and Prayer" celebrated in recent days throughout the nation and, in particular, by the Catholic community of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in Port Moresby. "If we sinners repent, God is always ready to forgive", said Sister Emma Lapun, OLSH, who in her speech highlighted the meaning of repentance and the reward for restoring peace.
In the note sent to Agenzia Fides, we read that Eva Wangihama, Secretary of the commission for the laity and one of the organizers of the event, said that the day of repentance is "more than a simple holiday" and thanked for involving all the Bishops in the event.
The Salesian Fr. Ambrose Pereira, in charge of Social Communications in the Bishops' Conference, opened the event with a celebration of prayer. The closing Mass was presided over by the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Fr. Giorgio Licini, PIME, who focused on reading a passage from the Gospel, encouraging those present to "grow in communion with God" and to become missionaries to their friends and acquaintances.
The special "Day of Repentance", set for August 26, is a public holiday in Papua New Guinea and is marked by gatherings and prayer meetings across the country. It was established in 2011 by then Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, at the request of "a group of churches".
According to Protestant Pastor Jack Edward, coordinator of the "Day of Repentance", the aim is to get people to "unite and pray, asking the Lord to forgive us for the wrong things, damage and sins that happen in our nation". It was conceived as a day of Christian prayer, in a nation where 95% of the population declares themselves Christian (2011 Census), 70% Protestant denominations and 25% belong to the Catholic Church. (AP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2020)