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Press Conference highlights topics of National Interest

Port Moresby: Burning issues of national interest were highlighted by Fr Giorgio Licini PIME, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI, in a press conference held on Monday 21st December, at the CBC Headquarters in Waigani.

The conference had the presence of CBC staff and media personnel, and was an opportunity to spread awareness on COVID-19, reflect on the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the ongoing political crisis, resettlement of refugees, priorities of CBC’s various commissions, and to share the Christmas message for 2020 despite all the hardships.

In his address, Fr Giorgio told of the devastating impact caused by the havoc of the coronavirus around the world, and urged citizens to take a moment to realize the gravity of its destruction to humanity. “Though PNG and countries of the Pacific have been least affected in terms of infections compared to other parts of the world, the disruption still has been significant. Though it prospers in many other developed countries, the risk is not over yet, and it can still catch up with the Pacific,” he said.

He recalled the ongoing political crisis endured by the country and its people and said it was a disappointment to see the nation descend into a political play during such a health and economic crisis. “There is nothing wrong with political ambitions and political moves by the people’s representatives. But the motivations should be strong and evident, not pretentious, debated in Parliament and not in remote and isolated locations with occasional and precarious political allies,” he said.

The growing concern of the 95 refugees and 42 asylum seekers brought to PNG by Australia in 2013, was also raised and he said plans were now underway to directly engage with the Australian High Commission. “We expect to work with the AU High Commission on the matter early next year because working with the Australian government for development in PNG is becoming increasingly hard for us for the ethical and moral implications,” he added.

He mentioned Pope Francis encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, and stressed that universal brotherhood was the key to combating social issues and standing firmly united as a family. “The pandemic has been a warning that nature is still in control and is unpredictable. We have been told to pause, to think, and not to proceed with business as usual,” he urged.

Fr Giorgio stated that though Christmas this year 2020 was not going to be as merry as how it normally was, he reminded faithful that Jesus birth as a baby in a manger was a ‘ray of hope’. “The smile we share can be more contagious than the virus haunting us, and may the new year 2021 be more desired than ever, bringing to an end our sufferings and a renewed sense of unity and service,” he said.

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