11/10/2017 12:29

Pacific Bishops Focus on Sea

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.

'We look to the common good and thus advocate for an integrated approach to development where local customary practices are respected and communities are assisted to grow employment opportunities." Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, 14 August 2017.

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.