06/12/2012 08:46

Papua New Guinea and Germany strengthen cooperation through Missio

By Abp. Karl Hesse MSC – Rabaul

Archbishop emeritus of Rabaul Karl Hesse, MSC explains the reasons and the meaning of the recent visit to Germany of a group of Bishops, priests, religious and Catholic laity from Papua New Guinea

The president of Missio Aachen, Prälat Dr. Klaus Krämer wrote to us: “In October every year we have the World Mission Sunday campaign on a special theme which we are developing in close cooperation with our partners. For every campaign Missio invites guests and cultural groups connected with the theme (“Your word is the light for my path”) and the projects. Today we would invite you as a guest to share your personal experience and commitment.”

“The forthcoming campaign takes up the subject of PNG as a society between tradition and modernity and the challenge of the Church. – The timeframe of our campaign is from 26th September until the World Mission Sunday (to be celebrated in Germany) on 28 October 2012.”

What is MISSIO and what purpose does it serve for the Church in Germany and in the world?

Eighty five years ago, Pope Pius XI asked the Association for the Propagation of the Faith (APF) to establish World Mission Sunday, which was to be celebrated in every Catholic diocese, parish and institute in the world. Ever since, on World Mission Sunday, Catholics worldwide recommit themselves to the Church missionary activity though prayer and sacrifice. Offerings from Catholics worldwide provide in this way annual assistance to about 1,050 Mission dioceses. These dioceses submit requests for assistance for catechetical programs, seminaries, communication and transport needs, the work of Religious Communities, and for the building of chapels and churches.

Thereafter, Missio had been established by the German Catholic Bishops Conference, in response to the call by Pope Pius XI, as one of the most important organization to help building up the Catholic Church and to assist her workers in more than 80 countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Missio supports activities in those countries which are directly connected to pastoral work, as outlined above. The offerings on World Mission Sunday throughout Germany are sent to one of the two established organizations of Missio in Germany, set up in Aachen for the northern part of Germany and in Munich for the southern part of Germany. In addition, Missio receives direct financial support through donations from private persons and companies.

In the year 2011 the Catholics in the Archdiocese of Paderborn alone collected for Missio an amount of about 2,2 Million Euro (= Kina 6.1 Million). - In the same year Missio spent a total of about 35 Million Euro (= Kina 97,2 Million) to support  more than 1,200 projects throughout the three continents Africa, Asia and Oceania.

What did people in parishes and schools already know about Papua New Guinea and what were the most frequently asked questions?

The people in the parishes as well as the students in the schools did not know much about Papua New Guinea, if they knew anything at all. Through the information campaign of Missio which went ahead of our involvement some knowledge was brought to the attention of the Catholic population throughout Germany. From my experience this campaign did not seem to have much success, since PNG does not have any priority in the mind of the German people. Even the fact that “Neuguinea” had been a German colony was not known by the ordinary people. Very few people knew that PNG was an independent country, situated north of Australia. More than once “cannibalism” was brought up in the connection with PNG.

Not knowing much about PNG, it was not easy for the participants taking part in an “open forum” to ask “intelligent” questions. An introduction into the situation of our country today had to be done first before question time took place. The questions followed the points which were brought to their attention during such an opening discourse. The people were surprised to hear that the Nation PNG was build out of two politically developed parts, namely Papua and New Guinea, but more so that it was formed out of more than 800 ethnic groups. It was not known that the Catholic Church commenced the uninterrupted evangelization in the year 1882. One found it hard to believe that by now about 95 % of the people are Christians. Questions were asked in regard to the participation of Catholics in church services, in regard to vocations and in particular concerning the localization of the Church. Some asked about the involvement of the Church in the Education and Health system. Questions were raised in regard to the effect of the globalization and of exploitation of resources.  Questions also came forward concerning the impact of the climate change on our islands.

How can the Christian communities in Papua New Guinea and Germany come to know each other and share in the gift of faith? Is there any possibility for Catholic youth exchange visits between Germany and Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea, so I heard recently over the media, is the country with fewer tourists than almost any other country in the world. Our country is far away from countries, “addicted” to tourism. And how many Papua-Newguineans do travel to Germany? It is a very expensive exercise to travel to Germany. Through the means of modern communication there I see one possibility.

From my experience the German church-goers are interested in what is happening in our Church; this especially is true if one can give witness to his own life and commitment in PNG.  We found that interest is shown in how to organize and to implement a Pastoral Plan and how to set up Basic Christian Communities. Quite a bit of sharing had been done on those issues when we met with Catholics involved in renewal programs in the different dioceses.

 On Mission Sunday and throughout the whole month of October our Catholics should be encouraged to commit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through more intensive prayer and sacrifice for the Catholics in one donor country in a particular year. A diocese could invite people from Germany for example to come to PNG to learn about our society and Church. Dioceses in Germany could be asked to invite – with the help of Missio – priests, religious or/and laypeople for some month to bring about the necessary awareness about our life in PNG to continue what had been started this year.

From my experience, the people in Germany, especially the young, were surprised and supported in their faith by the personal witness being given by the sisters, the priests and the bishops leading the Missio campaign during the months of September and October. (G.L.)

(cbcpngsi.org – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)