There is a “great evil” looming over the society in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This concerns the increased lack of respect for others and for human life. The Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands made this statement in a pastoral letter entitled “Evangelization In and Through the Family,” published at the conclusion of the recent Plenary Assembly in Port Moresby.
“In the document—says the Fides News Agency—, the bishops emphasize concern over the multiple forms of violence throughout society: murder, abortion, rape, tribal conflicts, domestic violence and child abuse, and also sorcery, torture, corruption, addiction to alcohol and drugs and pornography.” To counter this culture, there is, according to the Bishops, an urgent need for “a strong and well-disciplined army” made of “priests, religious, lay people, families, groups and movements, and all those who recognize themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The Bishops specifically deplore polygamy, which is still widespread in both countries: it “violates the meaning of Christian marriage and demeans the dignity and worth of women who are seen as mere possessions of rich and powerful males.” They also condemn the practice of “sharing” children within the extended family or the village. In some cases,—say the Bishops—children are even sold to people outside the family.
In the course of their Plenary Assembly, the Bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands elected Msgr. Arnold Orowae, Bishop of Wabag, President of the Episcopal Conference, and Msgr. Stephen Joseph Reichert, Archbishop of Madang, was appointed Vice-President.