Catholic Church does not identify with ‘prayer warriors’
Port Moresby: The Catholic Church, through its Justice, Peace, Relief and Development Agency, Caritas Papua New Guinea (CPNG), has called on the government to adequately fund law and order agencies to curb the rise in crime and violence, and for officers in these agencies to be more proactive and efficient in administering their duties.
This call was made during a Press Conference held by CPNG at the Archdiocese of Port Moresby on September 29th 2023. Panelists were Bishop Justin Ain Soongie, Auxilary Bishop of the Wabag Diocese and Bishop Deputy of CPNG; and the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, Fr. Giorgio Licini, PIME. Caritas PNG National Director, Ms. Mavis Tito moderated the session.
Bishop Justin gave a recount of the situation in Wapenamanda, Enga Province stating that the people refused to engage in tribal conflict so they asked the police to intervene and restore peace. They waited for three weeks without any response then eventually were forced to take matters into their own hands. As a result, there were many lives lost and widespread damage to infrastructure including residential houses, schools, health facilities, and Churches.
“People don’t choose to die, it is the wealthy and prominent elites who are sponsoring these fights through the purchase and transportation of guns and ammunition for the men in their tribes. They are responsible for all the lives lost. While they enjoy their luxurious lives in the city, people are dying in numbers in the villages.”
He added that regardless of the status of a person, all human beings were equal and the lives of all including their dignity should be protected and safeguarded at all cost, as is the responsibility of the government.
Fr. Giorgio commended the Churches, the government, civil society and the media for their joint effort in addressing Sorcery Accusation Related Violence (SARV) which has had some promising results, and added that while they were happy with that, another issue that needed clarification from the Churches was the case of individuals claiming to be “Prayer Warriors” with faith-based connections.
“The media is doing a commendable job in reporting on the issue but on September 20th, the Post Courier reported on its front page the prayer warrior arrested as being from the Catholic Church. While everyone belongs to a denomination, this issue needs more clarification as these are activities done by people who are clearly disconnected from their Churches”, he stated.
He also referenced a recent statement released by the Catholic Bishops of the Highlands Region through the Archbishop of Mt. Hagen, Archbishop Douglas Young, that the Catholic Church does not recognise these prayer warriors as a ministry of the Church as it has activities similar to ‘glass man/meri’.
“So-called prayer warriors have been implicated in SARV. Therefore, even if some using this title are innocent of such activity, it is now associated with activities inconsistent with the behavior of a disciple of Jesus. We are therefore in one mind forbidding the use of the term “Prayer Warrior”.
Ms. Tito said Caritas PNG, as an organization that promotes the dignity of the human person, is deeply concerned about the unprecedented levels of violence occurring in different parts of the country.
Caritas PNG is calling on the government to condemn all actions that undermine human dignity and to commit itself to upholding this principle; and for the government to recommit itself to the preamble of the Constitution.