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  • Jessica Oata

CBC President: Have love and respect for our children and form their moral conscience

Port Moresby: In his keynote address during the celebration of the feast of St Francis de Sales on Wednesday January 24, 2023, Catholic Bishops Conference President Most Reverend Bishop Otto Separy highlighted two important needs in the Catholic Church; having love and respect for our children and forming their moral conscience.

(Picture: CBC President Most Reverend Bishop Otto Separy giving his talk during the St Francis de Sales Feast day)

“This is a sad generation where there are so many social issues and our young people and children are neglected, therefore, we the Bishops of PNGSI decided to focus the pastoral letter on children.”


Bp Otto highlighted that as a Church in its efforts in forming our children, every diocese and parish must have a Pastoral Plan that aligns with the Conference Pastoral Plan and encouraged the priests, religious, catechists and the parents to play their part in ensuring the formation of children at an early age so they become law-abiding citizens as they grow.


“When our children and young people start to behave in ways that are not acceptable, we blame them for being the problem instead of taking accountability for failing to do our part in forming them.”


He stressed on the need for priests and religious to make time for the young people, be active and creative to invite children and young people to the parish and get them involved in church activities while providing pastoral accompaniment to them.


When addressing the religious in his presentation, he encouraged them to be like Jesus who always made time available to welcome children during his ministry.


“Even though we priests and religious are busy people, we must have concern and love for our children and young people and make time for them.”


In his address to the teachers and catechists, he challenged them to put extra effort in the formation of the children in the Catholic faith.


He said the Bishops were concerned that there is not enough Catechisms being taught in the parishes and Catholic schools, therefore, the children are growing up without being able to differentiate between what is right and wrong and their moral conscience is questioned.


“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not taken seriously resulting in our children not being formed well in our Catholic schools. Other subjects like science and technology have taken precedence and we miss the essence of our pastoral ministry – to form the children. When we talk about human formation in schools, we want to see spiritual formation and academic formation go hand in hand but that is unfortunately not the case.”


Bishop Otto encouraged parents to also play their part in the formation of children and not rely on teachers, catechists and priests to do the formation.


“Forming the child starts at home with the parents and it starts with little things like telling the child to be cautious and not play next to the fire or not to go swimming in the sea or the river without adult supervision.”

Relating his talk to the events of ‘Black Wednesday’, he said the unfortunate unfold of events posed a lot of pastoral issues that needs to be addressed by church leaders.


“I asked myself a lot of pastoral questions when I came across the article on the children involved in the arson-related incident in Gerehu. Where do these children come from? Where are their parents? Which parish do they belong to? Who is their parish priest? Which Archdiocese do they belong to?”


Bishop Otto said despite other issues such as law and order, unemployment and many others causing children and young people to act in ways that questions their moral conscience, he believes that if all church leaders, priests and religious, catechists, teachers and parents look at things from the pastoral point of view and start providing formation and spiritual accompaniment to them, we will have a healed and responsible generation.

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