Pacific Bishops meeting in Auckland in August 2017 declared: “As Bishops of the Pacific, the place of the sea in the lives of the peoples we serve was a central focus of our meeting. Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many of our peoples the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood. In solidarity with them, Psalm 107 resonates in our hearts: ‘those that do business in the great waters, they behold the world of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.’” Gathering as the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, they highlighted care of the sea and concern for West Papua. The Federation brings together Catholic Bishops Conferences from island nations across the Pacific Ocean. Bishops conferences from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand and CEPAC (the rest of the Pacific) are members. Care for Pacific Ecology Visiting communities affected by climate change, the Bishops observed the destruction of shorelines. On the other hand, they praised “the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats”. Furthermore, the Bishops held up the ‘blue economy’ as a model that respects sustainability and looks beyond short-term economic windfalls. Concern for West Papua The Bishops also focussed on the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua. They did not, however, express a view on independence. Instead they called for quality education, access to jobs and training, and respect for land titles. Furthermore, they ask for “clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce.” Nonetheless, they saw hope in efforts for dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Read the Pacific Bishops Statement Here is the full statement of the Pacific Bishops:
Cardinal John Ribat says that climate change is an urgent issue for the people of Papua New Guinea, and the whole of the Pacific. Cardinal Ribat drove his point home saying that the issue is a more urgent than discussing Amoris Laetitia. While there will be time to talk about Church teaching on family life, time is running out on climate change. Speaking to reporters in Rome on 11 February 2017, Cardinal Ribat explained: “It is really the biggest issue for us. We cannot keep quiet about it. We have to come out with it,” he said, noting that the “king tides, king waves” and rough winds “belting” the island nation are already forcing many people from their homes. These are the things “we cannot stop. They continue to come, and they are more powerful than us,” the cardinal said, explaining that while temporary sea walls have been set up, “they won’t hold.” “Our situation, it’s timely, you either talk about it or you see these people finished…There’s not timing for it. The time is either now or never.” Read More Read more at The Catholic Register.
The Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, meeting in Noumea, expressed concern about climate change saying: Of particular concern to us are rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and unusual rainfall patterns. These are affecting many of our communities in a harmful way. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels. Examples from this part of the world include the Carteret Islands, Fead Islands, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Mortlock Islands, Nukumanu Islands, the Tokelau Islands, and Tuvalu. As representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Australia, CEPAC (the Pacific Island nations), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they came from a multitude of island nation States spread throughout the Pacific. Read their statement here
Catholic Social Teaching in Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teaching principles may take root in and be expressed through every culture. Each particular experience can enhance humanity’s understanding both of reality, and of God’s call through it. By examining the local and particular, universal Catholic Social Teaching principles may be recognized and understood more deeply. Local Bishops share with the Popes in the task of teaching on issues of social justice. The international and local teachings inform one another. This website holds up the experiences of the people of the Asia Pacific region by making Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teaching more widely known. Find Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teachings
Bishop Arnold Orowae, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & the Solomon Islands, has called on politicians to respect the law and to give priority to the common good. His call comes among growing concerns in Papua New Guinea about democracy, the rule of law, and the accountability of leaders: “No person, including members of parliament, is above the law. There is the one law for everyone in Papua New Guinea. Yet recent events, with accusations, dismissals and political manouverings appear to disrespect the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said. Read the statement here.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands expressed their condolences to the family of the asylum seeker killed on Manus Island and reiterated their opposition to Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea: “Detaining people against their will in PNG, even if it “works” as a deterrent is not a just solution worthy of a great nation otherwise proud of its human rights record. It clearly places an intolerable strain on the capacity of PNG to manage, and might lead to even more deaths, injury and trauma. Close the centre and manage the problem in Australia.” Read their statement here.
The Papua New Guinea Bishops have expressed concern about the nationalisation of the Ok Tedi mine and the possible wind up of the Sustainable Development Program associated with it. They say: “The Sustainable Development Program has supported hundreds of projects nationwide, partnering with organizations and communities to bring assistance where it is most needed, particularly in disadvantaged remote rural areas largely overlooked by government. It has done this with integrity, avoiding the stain of incompetence and corruption. Local organizations and communities know that if they are honest, willing to work hard and do their part in a spirit of self-reliance, they are likely to attract the attention of PNGSDP and receive assistance. Now it seems this will end.” Read More …