Social Concerns Notes : May 2021

The Catholic Bishops oppose the Inquiry on the Declaration of Papua New Guinea as Christian Country

23 May 2021

| Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG & Solomon Islands
NOOSA – The Catholic Bishops Conference has expressed dissatisfaction at the Marape government’s lack of consultation with churches in initiating an inquiry about whether Papua New Guinea should be declared ‘a Christian country’.
“All considered, we do not deem it necessary to introduce amendments to the current PNG Constitution,” the bishops said in a statement.

Leading the conference were Anton Bal, Archbishop of Madang, Sir John Cardinal Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, Otto Separy, Bishop of Bereina, and Paul Harricknen, President of the Catholic Professional Society.

The Catholic Bishops Conference said it disapproved of the inquiry in its totality and deemed it as unnecessary, especially in its aim to amend the Constitution.

Archbishop Bal said a Constitutional amendment to declare PNG a Christian country seemed to make a mockery of the nation’s existing laws and urged the government not to use the Constitution as a means of promoting political ideologies.

“We believe that the democratic system of government established by the founding fathers of the nation is not to be renounced now in favour of a theocratic one embodied in a confessional state,” he said… continue on:

CBC PNGSI Press Release, 20 May 2021
+ ANTON BAL                              
Archbishop of Madang
President, CBC PNG/SI

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island have stated during the panel discussion at CBC Centre – Gordons on the 20th, May 20201 that “it is not necessary to introduce amendment to the PNG Constitution involving the Preamble, the National Goals and Directive Principles, Sec. 45 (Freedom of Conscience, Thought and Religion), and Sec. 46 (Freedom of Expression). The answer is basically “no” to all queries in the proposed questionnaire of the above-mentioned consultation for at least the following four main reasons: Religious freedom is non-negotiable, the Preamble to the Constitution already pledges to guard and pass on Christian principles, Christianity in Papua New Guinea is divided into many groups, and the Constitution was drafted by good and inspired Christian leaders” …

The bishops further propose their views that there is no need for constitutional amendments to declare Papua New Guinea a Christian country.  It already is one…

  As Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  It is inappropriate for the government to use its coercive powers to ensure that its citizens adopt certain religious practices. …

Union (concern) slams staff termination.

May 24, 2021 The National Business

The PNG Banks and Financial Institution Workers Union has condemned the decision by the National Development Bank (NDB) to terminate two of its members.
A union statement said the termination of the two employees was a direct infringement of the workers’ rights to form or join a trade union.
It also alleged that infighting in the NDB is delaying the roll-out of the K80 million government funding to facilitate lending to small micro-medium enterprises.
“Section 47 of the Constitution of PNG as well as the International Labour Organization Convention 98 and Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights give workers the right to form and join a trade union organization,” it said.
“The NDB management (decision) is a blatant disregard for workers’ welfare and abiding by good industrial practice.
“The injuring of employees on account of being a member of the union is an offence under section 63 of the Industrial Relations Act.”

Pope Francis said that Labor unions are essential to society. Labor unions that protect and defend the dignity of work and the rights of workers continue to have an essential role in society, especially in promoting inclusion.

“There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that isn’t reborn every day in the peripheries, that doesn’t transform the rejected stones of the economy into corner stones,” the pope said on June 28, 2017 during an audience with Italian union leaders.

Eight people killed in tribal fight

May 4, 2021 The National Main Stories
By Elias Lari
The raging tribal fighting in Porgera has claimed eight lives over the weekend, Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Nickson Pakea says.

Pakea said the killings were related to on going fight between two tribal groups with each group losing four lives…

He said fighting was raging fiercely in Laiagam, Mulitaka, and almost the entire electorate of Lagaip-Porgera, resulting in many deaths since last year.

 “The bodies were located by the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church youths when they crossed the fighting zones with their brass bands as a sign to call off the fight,” Pakea added.

“The tribal clash is like a genocide with at least one death a day. “The authorities must take quick and serious counter-actions to stop the tribal war…. Continue on:

The 7th law of the Ten Commandments of God says “Thou shalt not kill

The Catholic Church proclaims that “human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Catholic’s oppose acts considered attacks and affronts to human life … such as genocide, torture, the direct and intentional targeting of noncombatants in war, and every deliberate taking of innocent human life”.

Therefore, Nation must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. ” Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke extensively on the topic of the inviolability of human life and dignity in his watershed encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, (Latin for “The Gospel of Life”). 

Can the Land issue at ATS repel the Chinese challenge?

03 May 2021

Keith Jackson 

NOOSA – I thought this was going to be a good news story, but now I’m not too sure. Late last week, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape seemed to move with lightning speed to stop a developer evicting residents and destroying homes at Port Moresby’s ATS settlement.… but, I got some disconcerting news.

The ATS land at 8 Mile was traditionally owned by three men from the original Koari people who, in 1995, gave their consent to settlers from Oro Province to live on the land. The leaders of the settlement once said they had documents to prove this arrangement. … According to various sources the population in ATS is about 10,000, many of whom are unemployed and in serious financial hardship.

According to the Department of Lands, in 2008, under suspicious circumstances, title was given to Dunlavin Limited, a Chinese company. In 2013 police attempted to execute an eviction order from Dunlavin and ordered the settlers, who had been given no notice, to leave.

Dunlavin took out a new court order to evict people living on portion 695 of the land giving notice of 120 days which ended last Thursday…
Immediately, the equipment moved in and, despite the 120 days’ notice, once again the settlers were caught unawares by bulldozers moving in, this time it seems to construct a road…  So the people of ATS, all 10,000 or so of them, are at present in limbo…Continue on:

The Catholic Church morally speaks that “Occupancy is the actual taking of thing belongs to no other with the intention of making its own. It is a valid title to ownership, as long as it transgresses no existing rights of others and no just positive laws, because nature offers earth and all its goods for the good of all mankind.”

Invest in primary health care

May 7, 2021 The National Editorial

Providing proper medical care is the primary responsibility of the Government.
The Government should ensure that medical equipment in hospitals and clinics are the best to deal for the health of the people.
Investing in health is investing in people, which is essential for sustainable long-term development outcomes.
Failing to invest in health leads to poor health outcomes and has a profound economic impact, resulting in high costs for Papua New Guinea…. It covers rehabilitation and care at the end of life as well. Primary healthcare means care closer to home and intervening early to prevent many illnesses from becoming serious. Strong primary healthcare reduces demand on hospitals. It includes community-based solutions to tackle issues such as mental health.

A robust primary healthcare system works with other sectors to create healthier environments and prevent injuries and illness.

The healthcare service delivery is provided by a combination of government, private facilities and church facilities – the majority of which are located in urban and is funded by a combination of government tax revenues, donors, and the user.
For PNG, we have a crises in the health system.

Employment in PNG in a worry

7, May, 2021
Post Courier
By Gorethy Kenneth
More than 2500 university graduates have applied for 50 non-specific jobs advertised for seven days this month by a newly established Papua New Guinea business. And more than 200 have applied for a managerial position in just one day, also all university graduates, the company said.

The company was looking for grades 10 or 12 certificate holders to work in various sections of the office including shop and office assistants, cashiers and various others, instead 98 per cent of applications received were university degree holders and graduates who are desperately looking for jobs.

PNG Office Works, a newly established business in Port Moresby, said it was very disheartening to see university degree certificate holders applying for jobs that suit grade 10 and 12 leavers.

 “What am I supposed to do? I cannot employ all of them, let alone of course I will have the best brains, but I am only looking for 50,” the company’s owner said. 

“Times are tough and being a Papua New Guinean, seeing these young scholars desperately looking for jobs is very heartbreaking. I wish I had employed all of them.”…

Continue on:

“Laborem exercens (Latin: Through Work) is an encyclical written by Pope John Paul II in 1981, stated that “We must first direct our attention to a fundamental issue: the question of finding work, or, in other words, the issue of suitable employment for all who are capable of it.” The problem is not a lack of resources—”conspicuous natural resources remain unused”—but poor organization. The criterion of full employment will only be achieved through planning and coordination among all the indirect employers, and a better coordination of education with employment. Moreover, it is a duty of a society … to help its citizens find opportunity for adequate employment (GS 67). Naturally if a national economy has not sufficient places of work for all, the unemployment cannot demand jobs which are not needed or for which no money is available.

St. Thomas Aquinas said   Work provide for daily livelihood, prevents idleness which is a source of many evils , curbs the rebellious flesh and enable a man to give alms from his material surplus “.

Peaceful reconciliation among youths

May 10, 202,
Post Courier

By Ian Mathew
Youth from Malaguna one, Matupit and the Kombiu Local Level Government in Rabaul district met at the St Francis Xavier Catholic church last week to settle their differences and end a fighting in Rabaul town. The fight took place two weeks ago in the town which resulted in four youths receiving serious knife wounds and hospitalized.

Last week the disgruntled youths from both sides reconciled at the Kuragaga Catholic Church, witnessed by Governor Nakikus Konga, public servants and church representatives.
The occasion saw youths apologize publicly and share shell money and food in the ENB tradition…

Continue on:

Catholic perspective: solidarity is very essential in our society. “We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.”  Blessed are the peacemakers: For they shall be called the children of God (Mt. 5:9).

Wisdom needs to prevail in Alotau crisis

My Land, My Country

An open letter to Prime Minister James Marape .

Late yesterday the situation in Alotau was reported as stable but police were expecting another major assault on Giligili prison by the Tommy Baker gang to release 11 members facing charges of arson, piracy and armed robbery. Forty police have been deployed from Port Moresby to reinforce local personnel – KJ.
Lae – Dear Prime Minister, I am writing this for your consideration so you might provide counsel and guidance to those in your charge. The situation in Alotau is spiraling out of control. The trend is dangerous.

The people are unhappy with both crime and the manner in which the government and its agencies are responding to it.
There are underlying issues that need to be resolved through dialogue – not by the barrel of the gun.

While I have a voice, your ear and a platform on which to stand, I ask you to urge caution.
Do not let people die on your watch. Do not let your people be abused by the instrumentalities that you ultimately control.
There are questions that need to be answered and we cannot get answers only by sending in troops.
There is a place for it. But we have to handle this situation with tact and diplomacy…. Continue on:,

The Catholic Social Teaching emphasis about the dignity of life calls us … to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; and to overcome poverty and suffering. Nations are called to protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort, always seeking first to resolve disputes by peaceful means. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God.

Nurses protest over awards

May 11, 2021 The National Main Stories

By Lulu Mark
Nurses in Eastern Highlands have stopped work and are staging a sit-in protest, demanding that their awards are implemented, an official says.
Papua New Guinea Nurses Association (PNGNA) Goroka branch representative Nocksy Gunure told The National that the protest that started yesterday would continue today and they expected Health Minister Jelta Wong and Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu to address them by tomorrow.
He said a petition was given to Wong and Numu and their concerns were:

  • The nurses award 2016-2018 not being implemented;
  • COVID-19 allowances; and
  • Implementation of the new nurses’ award 2021-2023.

Attempts to confirm whether Wong or Health secretary Dr Osborne Liko was aware of the petition yesterday were unsuccessful…

Continue on:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has identified in the Social the Social Teaching of the Catholic “the Dignity of Work and the Right of Workers that “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

“Do not withhold wages from your workers, for their livelihood depends on them.” Deuteronomy
24:14-15  .  “All workers should be paid a just and living wage.” Matthew 20:1-16.

Bangladeshi decry attacks, threaten to wind-down operations

Post Courier 
May 4 2021

By Gorethy  Kenneth

The PNG-Bangladesh Business Association, whose member businesses employ more than 50,000 Papua New Guineans around the country, are threatening to shut down shop if the government does nothing to stop the continuous criminal attacks against their members.

There are more than 100 Bangladesh businesses operating throughout PNG that employ locals in general and various divisions and distribution of jobs.

The association said in Port Moresby alone, they employ more than 20,000 Papua New Guineans.

Executive chairman of the PNG-Bangladesh Business Association, Mohammed Wahed, told the Post-Courier that they wanted to go on strike and close their operating businesses, whether big or small, but because they employ thousands of locals, they will meet this week again to make a decision.

 “We employ many Papua New Guineans, and if we make a decision to go on strike and close all outlets and businesses, of course, our businesses will be affected, but who will suffer most?” he said.

 “Our people, who are working each day to make ends meet especially in this tough time.

 The law and order situation is critical now…. “This is our country, we want to work together for PNG.”…

In the space of a week, more than four Bangladeshis working in the city have been brutally injured, wounded and stabbed, with some threatened for cash. Over the weekend, a Bangladeshi national was slashed and injured in his shop at Taurama, a suburb of the capital city…. “This is too much for our citizens who are not only here to make money but provide jobs and help Papua New Guineans,” he said.

Mr. Wahed said they will make a decision once the executives meet to finalise their proposal to the government.

Pope John Paul II wrote in the 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis  (the Social Concern) that “All the peoples of the world belong to one human family. We must be our brother’s keeper, though we may be separated by distance, language or culture. Jesus teaches that we must each love our neighbors as ourselves and in the parable of the Good Samaritan we see that our compassion should extend to all people. Solidarity includes the Scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us—including immigrants seeking work, a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families”.

We, PNG as Christian nation must embedded deeply into our constitution, must have respect for investors and other business partners in our country. The security and safety of one’s life is very vital.  Citizens and leaders of this nations must take immediate action to do away with evil behaviors as said in the articles below.

Family health association reopens office in ENB

May 4, 2021, The National

By Michael Wartovo
The Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) has reopened its office in Kokopo, East New Britain (ENB), to help tackle rising cases of violence against girls and women in the province.

“It is timely for PNGFHA to reopen its office here after seven years,” ENB deputy administrator Levi Mano said.

Mano, officiating at the closing of the one-week-long training of peer educators on eliminating violence against girls and women, highlighted the importance of child abuse issues.
“Many social issues like child abuse, sexual harassment and violence against women are rising and it is timely for the PNGFHA to be active again…

 The Catholic Church teaches that man is not only a sacred but also a social person and that families are the first and most basic units of a society. It advocates a complementarian view of marriage, family life, and religious leadership. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family—based on marriage (between a man and a woman)—is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Together families form communities, communities a state and together all across the world each human is part of the human family.

It is enriching to see the following article which people can take ownership to help mothers, sisters and children who are being abuse in our society.  

Cops suspended for failing duty

May 10, 2021,
The National main stories

By Sylvester Wemuru
Madang Commander Supt Mazuc Rubiang has suspended a group of Walium Highway Patrol 14 policemen for failing to perform their duty.
A vehicle travelling from Madang to Mt Hagen went off the road at Naru on the highway between Walium and Madang.
Supt Rubiang said a passenger died in the accident and the vehicle was set ablaze by opportunists after the policemen left. “The policemen had left an accident scene when they should have remained to investigate,” he said. “I had instructed the policemen to be at the scene to assist the passenger but after arriving at the scene, they left.

“I am upset with my men because a passenger had died and it was our duty to protect lives and properties. I instructed them to provide security at the scene but they left and it was burned.”
Supt Rubiang said road accidents were happening daily and people were losing their lives due to careless driving.
He said Madang’s crime rate was also going from bad to worse with daily armed robberies reported.
“We are trying our best to respond with the very limited resources that we have. There were more than five armed robberies reported over the weekend,” he said.

The Catholic Church teaches that every person has a duty and responsibility to help fulfill these rights for one another, for our families, and for the larger society”.

The Vatican II document stated that from the Christian doctrine on work, there arise “every man’s duty to labor faithfully” (GS 67). For every man is called to serve his fellowmen and to cooperate with God in the unfold of his creation naturally to that extent that he or she is able to do so. …  Moreover, every worker or profession is oblige to render the service conscientiously which he/she agreed to perform and for which he/she is paid. Whoever performs his/her works badly, does not comply with his obligations, or conducts his job carelessly or recklessly, sins against justice.

Therefore, whoever neglect should brought to the justice and are oblige to restitution.

Over 1.4 Million Papua New Guineans experience Gender Based Violence


Posted By Staff Reporter : An estimated 1.4 million Papua New Guineans are affected by gender-based violence annually, with accusations of sorcery one of the many issues women and girls face, an inquiry has been told.
A two-day public inquiry on gender-based violence before a special parliamentary committee in Port Moresby heard that it worked out to a woman dying or being injured every 30 seconds through such violence.
Issues raised included prosecution, funding, polygamy, and access to services by victims. Voice for Change founder Lilly Be’Soer who is based in Jiwaka told inquiry chairman Charles Abel that accessibility to services by women in rural areas was a big problem. 

Continue on:

Many Saints in the History of Catholic Church always emphasis about the equality of human dignity between man and Woman. St. Ambrose writes: “everybody, man and woman must know that he bears God’s image and likeness.” St. Basil declares: “the woman no less than the man possess the privilege of being created after God’s image. Both sexes have the same dignity, both have the same virtues” St. Francis de Sales adds: “the woman is equal to the man, especially in the claim to grace and glory, which glory is the fruit … of the image and likeness of her creator.” (Karl H. Peschke.  Christian Ethics Moral Theology in the light of Vatican II. V.2,  2001)

Fr. Ambrose Pereira : Truth needed to solve issues

May 17, 2021, The National

The Secretary  for  the Social Communication Commission of Catholic  Bishop Conference, , Fr Ambrose Pereira says Papua New Guineans need to get out of the back of their “black mirrored screens”, hit the streets and meet face-to-face with society to understand today’s socio-economic situation.
“Communicating the truth for the common good of all people is important to counter social ills and problems,” the Vatican envoy said.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we still need to openly speak about the stories and issues facedbytheoppressed, suffering, poor, voiceless and faceless. “We require the truth to help remedy problems.”

The Catholic Bishop Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands discussed the role of journalists, youths and parents’ roles and responsibilities in Catholic families to commemorate world communication day (WCD) and international family’s day yesterday.

Fr Pereira emphasized the importance of WCD and recalled Pope Francis’ message and urged journalists and Christians to leave their comfort zones and encounter first-hand the lives of people at the grassroots level. The President of the Catholic Professional, Mr. Paul Harricknen described family’s love as an institution that was the hallmark of God’s love for humanity.

“Marriage and family are an institution built for the experience of God’s love and for this very love to be shared for society’s well-being,” he said.

Bishop of Vanimo, Francis Meli spoke about the love of God in marriage and family and his call to cherish and nourish it.

“To be happy and joyful, families need to be prayerful and God-centered in all that they do and to never lose sight of these values that he has shown and granted us,” he said.

Youth secretary Elizabeth Aribi said parents were a source of encouragement for their children.

Vatican II, Decree on the means of Social Communication stated that Catholic Church was founded by Christ our Lord to bring salvation to all men. It feels oblige, therefore, to preach the gospel. In the same way, it believes that it task involves employing the means of social communication to announce the good news of salvation and to teach men how to use them properly.

Teach children ethical values

May 6, 2021The National  Editorial

Domestic and sexual violence concern continues with a wide variety of opinions being aired throughout the nation. Others include alcohol abuse, law and order and the list goes on.

The most outspoken have called for tougher penalties to be imposed, raising awareness so victims know their rights and what help is available and others are just armchair critics waiting to pick out on the failures.

There is a huge challenge now to change and make a difference and that will only be through educating young Papua New Guineans.Today’s society has broken many rigid barriers.

Our ability to communicate with each other within PNG is historically a recent development.
Previous generations often remained geographically restricted and had only vague ties with other tribes in adjourning land.

We need to stop and think about the process of transformation that our societies have undertaken in the past century.

Many of our sons and daughters now move freely throughout our nation and beyond.
Movement involves exposure to new customs and beliefs and rigidly held taboos are very often the first to fall.
Our societies today include a rapidly increasing generation of young adults and youths whose parents are from different provinces.

Fifty years ago, such off-springs were rare; they tended to be the children of policemen or teachers who moved regularly throughout PNG and who often married outside their own village systems. Continue on:

In the Light of Vatican II, the Church teaches that “The Educational tasks requires that parents look after the moral and personal development of their children. The human person must be formed in view of his calling by God and  of his future responsibilities in Society. (Karl H. Peschke.  Christian Ethics Moral Theology in the light of Vatican II. V.2, 2001)

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
          Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
                        Where there is injury, pardon;
                                       where there is discord, unity;
                                                     where there is error, truth;
                                                               Where there is doubt faith;
                                                                         Where there is despair, hope;
                                                                               where there is darkness, light;
                                                                                  where there is sadness, joy. 

(St. Francis of Assisi)

Compiled by James WAU
CBCPNGSI Social Concerns Acting officer

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