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  • Ahisha Mangot and Jessica Oata

Social Communications Commission of CBCPNGSI Commemorates Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.

Port Moresby: Journalists, media personnel from different media organizations and the staff of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands celebrated the Feast of St Francis de Sales, the patron Saint of Journalists and Writers on January 24, 2023.

Hosted by the Social Communications Commission of CBCPNGSI and guided by the World Communications Day theme, the event was celebrated with the theme: “Speaking the truth in LOVE”. Present as guest speakers were the Auxiliary Bishop of Wabag Bp. Justin Ain Soongie and President of the Catholic Professionals Society Mr. Paul Harricknen.

Social Communications Secretary Sr. Daisy Lisania Augustine MSC in her welcome remarks stressed that the World Communications Day messages are not only addressed to Christians and Catholics but also to “People of goodwill and everywhere”.

“The World Communications Day messages should be noted that in some places like Hong Kong, other Christian Churches join the Catholic initiative in an ecumenical spirit to celebrate World Communications Day”, she said.

The speakers advocated and presented on two ongoing issues affecting men, women, and children in society: Sorcery Accusation Related Violence (SARV) and Gender Based Violence (GBV).

In his presentation on SARV, Bishop Justin Ain Soongie called on more collaborative efforts from village leaders, law enforcement agencies, and the government to help alleviate the issue and challenged the journalists and media personnel to continue advocating by reporting on issues affecting the people, especially the vulnerable, with truth and love.

“I don’t blame one party for this, we are all responsible. Community leaders are not

cooperating with law enforcement agencies to identify and present suspects to the police, law enforcement agencies sometimes make the commitment to follow up on SARV cases that are reported but they don’t, media agencies make big headlines once, but many times are late to follow up and properly report on them and churches need to make more awareness on this issue to their members”, he said.

Speaking on the topic of GBV, Mr. Paul Harricknen said that making pronouncements of laws and policies alone is not enough and laws must be genuinely and honestly enforced against perpetrators to protect victims and survivors of abuse and violence.

“The reality is that law, policy, and strategies alone are not and cannot be enough in achieving their purpose. These have to be supported by implementation and enforcement. This too cannot happen without the appropriate mechanisms, people, and funding, which will also depend on the strong will and real desire from those in position and power”, he said.

Participants also had the opportunity to evaluate and challenge themselves to work collaboratively and coordinate themselves to address and advocate on these issues consistently, by doing news reports, follow-up reports, and speaking up without fear or favor.

The celebration of the Feast of St. Francis de Sales was significant for the Social Communications Commission because it was the first of its kind and it will be celebrated annually in the coming years. Comments from the participants:

“Each of us has to stand up and speak for what is right. From small things like telling your neighbor to lower the volume of their music, stopping a couple from fighting to big things like speaking up on issues affecting our society. Most often, we don’t want to take on the responsibility of doing what is right because we are afraid of the consequences but by being bystanders, we are indirectly supporting what’s going on.” – Bishop Otto Separy.

“If we ever want to see change in this country, we need to come up with parent groups. From a parent’s perspective, I feel that I am responsible for not only raising them up but for influencing a mindset that I want to see going forward. Different partners are involved in influencing mindsets and churches are one. Everyone runs to a church when they have issues. What is the message we are sharing, is it uniform, or is it based on perspective? We all have to speak the same language if we want to address these issues.” – Maureen Orea.

”For us media personnel, we have the challenge to bring across to our people laws that are made, penalties. When our people have all this information, they now have the responsibility to make good decisions”. – Peter Sindra

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