OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Christmas of tears and hope: the common good is the good of all

Monday, 6 December 2021

Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "Since the early days in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Catholic Church has contributed to the improvement of society, illuminating it with the light of the Good News of Jesus Christ, denouncing destructive cultural practices such as witchcraft, polygamy, war and female homicide, and promoting social, educational and health services for all without discrimination". This is what we read in the Pastoral Letter for the year 2022 written by the Bishops of both countries in relation to the context of chaos and protests against the recently degenerated government in the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.
In the text entitled 'Salt and light: the Catholic Church and society', the bishops highlight the commitment carried out so far in the light of the Gospel in relation to the refugee crisis, the pandemic, corruption, the death penalty, abortion and witchcraft, violence, as well as the amendment of the Constitution to declare Papua New Guinea a confessional state, and how Christians should respond to these challenges using principles of the Gospel. This process - writes Father Giorgio Licini, PIME, Secretary General of the Bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, in the note sent to Agenzia Fides - follows three years of reflection and promotion of the vocation of the laity to encourage everyone for real change in everyday life. "While it is true that violence is always a source of suffering, political leaders should understand more than ever that the common good is the good of all, including minorities, disadvantaged groups and individuals". "As Christmas approaches, we turn our thoughts and prayers, especially to those who lost everything in the recent Honiara fires, to women and children tortured in the highlands of PNG and elsewhere due to senseless accusations of witchcraft, the victims of COVID-19 and their families, the young people left to fend for themselves. A sad celebration of Christmas - add the bishops - also awaits a hundred asylum seekers and refugees in Port Moresby".
However, the bishops do not stop sending a message of hope for the upcoming holidays. "With all these pockets of suffering between us and the unstoppable pandemic, it is difficult to wish a Christmas of joy and happiness - they write -. However, we do so on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, as the weak baby in the manger has proven to be the most powerful source of hope, encouragement and strength" (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 6/12/2021)