58th Annual General Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
- Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb
Boroko, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:
The 58th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBC-PNGSI) began on Tuesday 25th April 2017 at Emmaus Conference Centre, Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea.
There are 17 bishops and one Administrator (Auki) attending this meeting, which started at 4.30 pm and was chaired by Bishop Bernard Unabali of Bougainville. The President of the CBC-PNGSI, Bishop Arnold Orowae of Wabag gave the inaugural address and declared the 58th AGM open. The prayer was led by Sr.Kumari Pappu, FIHM while Fr.Ambrose Pereira SDB is the Minutes Secretary. Fr.Victor Roche, SVD the General Secretary went through the schedule and other arrangements for the 10 days’ meeting.
‘Care, Protection and Catechizing of our Children’ is the theme of the 2017 AGM. Psychiatrist Dr. Uma Ambi, led the recollection for the bishops on the 26th April. In the afternoon the bishops had the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession.
Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio to PNG/SI celebrated the morning Eucharist on 27th April. Since his arrival, eight months ago, he visited the three dioceses of Solomon Islands and nearly half of the dioceses in Papua New Guinea. His visits have given him an understanding of the work the bishops do in very difficult and challenging situations. He commenced his address thanking the bishops for their pastoral commitment and zeal and assured them of his closeness to them as representative of the Holy Father. He congratulated the Cardinal and the new Bishops of PNG/SI. He spoke of the last four years of the pontificate of Pope Francis, that has unleashed a new energy and pointed out the need for an attitudinal change at every level, that conforms to the spirit of the Gospel.
In his address to the bishops, he challenged them to ‘go out’ and be ‘ambassadors of mercy’. He spoke of the upcoming Synod of Youth in October 2018, with its theme: Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment. And of the document entitled Young People in Today's World. “This is important as both Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have with 30 to 40% of young people. However, they face a lot of challenges, are victims of corruption and lack the ability to share their voices. The church needs to give young people a voice, to encourage young people to make a personal commitment to their life, and to encourage them to develop their leadership skills”, said the Apostolic Nuncio. In dwelling on the theme: ‘Caring, protecting and evangelizing our children’, he stressed the need to care for families and ensure an integral formation of priests.
A practical presentation on the theme was then coordinated by Sr Imelda Mission. Students and teachers from St. John’s Primary School, Tokorara and a representative from Callan services highlighted the problems and issues of children. The presentation was much appreciated by the entire gathering, which included the secretaries of the different commissions.
In the afternoon Archbishop Mark Coldridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, shared his experience of handling the delicate issue of ‘sexual abuse’ in the Catholic Church. He highlighted the issues faced in Australia are not isolated to geographical areas and highlighted that the lessons learnt in Australia are relevant for the church in Papua New Guinea. “The sharing of Archbishop Mark Coleridge has left us points for concern, reflection, discussion and action”, said Bp. Rochus Tatamai, Bishop of Berenia.
Present for a day was Lutheran Bishop Jack Urame, Lutheran. He addressed the gathering and shared his joy at being present for the day. The Lutherans and Catholics celebrate 500 years of the reformation. The AGM continues with the committee meetings.