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  • Caritas PNG Advocacy Desk

Church taking strategic action on SARV

Mt Hagen: The catholic church in the highlands region is taking a strategic approach towards addressing Sorcery Accusation Related Violence (SARV) in the Highlands provinces.

A one-day regional planning workshop was held at the Archdiocese of Mt. Hagen on November 9 attended by the Archbishop of Mt. Hagen Bishop Douglas Young, Assistant deputy Bishop for Caritas PNG, and Auxiliary Bishop of Wabag, Bishop Justin Soongie, Bishop of Kundiawa Diocese Paul Sundu, Diocesan priests, House of hope Mendi, Sr. Lorena Jenal, Caritas coordinators and family life coordinators from the four highlands Dioceses. The highlands team was joined by officers from the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI from Port Moresby.

This was the first of its kind for the church that has been at the forefront of the SARV response to plan collectively as a region on SARV.

In recent times, the Diocese of Wabag and Mendi has battled SARV alone without much support and involvement of sister Dioceses in the Highlands region, who reported fewer SARV cases.

Archbishop Douglas Young in his opening remarks said the church in the highlands region has the privilege to operate and plan together as a region given accessibility by road, however, the privilege comes with great responsibility.

“While we have this opportunity, we should use it, more so in a way that we guide other regions who may not be able to plan together like this, that we are a structured church, and we are decentralized”.

Bishop Douglas reiterated that planning in regions in a way promotes subsidiarity by and through the church.

“In our Dioceses, we have things that are of common interest to the region where regional planning can be effective, more efficient, more powerful, and long-lasting.

Things that can be done at the lower level should be done at the lower level, not in Waigani or away. Families should be able to decide for themselves. Christian communities should be able to make decisions for themselves. These are levels of functionality that can improve the spirit of cooperation’’, Bishop Douglas reiterated.

The one-day workshop includes sharing stories and experiences of SARV response and mapping out resources and referral pathways. The workshop concluded with a draft regional 5-year strategic SARV response plan for the church in the highlands region for 2023- 2027.

The 5-year plan once finalized and approved, will then be adopted by respective Dioceses into their Pastoral plans and calendar activities, and implemented by respective Bishops, priests, and church workers including Diocesan Caritas coordinators.

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