OCEANIA/SOLOMON ISLANDS - Melanesian spirituality, good basis for proclaiming the Gospel among the “dark skinned people of Oceania”

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Honiara (Agenzia Fides) - Melanesia culture and spirituality, a holistic understanding of human and divine, was a good basis for announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ. In fact only 150 years since the first attempts at evangelisation in Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Fiji - today the people in this Pacific region are 87% Christian.
This was affirmed by Fr Henri Paroi OP, Superior of the Dominican House, Henderson, Solomons, in a article in the magazine Voice Katolika issued by the local Catholic Church. These dark skinned people Oceania belong to many different Polynesian and Micronesian ethnic groups. The part of the world is one of most recently evangelised areas and certain beliefs and customs can facilitate or hinder acceptance of the Gospel.
“Their spiritual and cultural heritage - says Fr Paroi - has a holistic approach which connects the divine to every aspect of life: family, social, economic, political. “Melanesian spirituality cannot be isolated from the complexities of life. Here people make no distinction between religious and non religious experiences”. Spirituality becomes “a style of live, part of the Melanesia vision of the cosmos, expressed in various aspects of concrete daily life”. A Melanesian sees life from a spiritual point of view says Fr. Paroi and he adds “Melanesian spirituality serves to lead people to a profound relationship with Jesus Christ. A Christian believes that God is present in every event, every person and this is in keeping with the approach and understanding of Melanesian culture”.
This explains why Melanesians are so ready to accept the Good News of Christ spirituality. Today Melanesia has a population of 9.7 million of which over 8.5 are Christians of various denominations, and evangelisation continues thanks to an active laity committed in the field of education, social services and communications. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 3/2/2007 righe 28 prole 284)