People must now stand of their feet, Grand Chief tells Bishops
15 APR 2013. Former Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare briefly addresses the PNG & SI Catholic Bishops Conference in Madang today recalling first “the peaceful and non ruthless manner in which the Church came to this country”. Mission centres such as Alexishafen, Kokopo and Yule Island soon became not only centres of spiritual irradiation, but of educational enhancement as well. People even learned foreign languages such as German, French and Spanish.
The early times of the Church in PNG “should be written and preserved” Sir Michael said, adding that he is willing to fund the project.
The new task of the Church, as far as development is concerned, in Sir Michaels' opinion is now to instil in the people the idea that the time has come for them to stand on their own feet and depend on local resources, after decades of outside Church and colonial help. At the district level, however, the Church can still provide guidance and supervision in the investment of financial resources provided by the central government. There is also a contribution that is not financial in nature: “In the schools teach people how to behave! This is the way I became a person - Sir Michael said -. And this is not happening anymore in our schools, hospitals, and clinics, while the TV projects a lot of violent behaviour. Young people are not thought proper manners and attitudes.”
As far as mission land the Church now wants to give back to the people, Sir Michael suggested that the dioceses cede it to the government for lease among the residents. The Bishops, however, see this solution as a last resort when the identification of “original landowners” is really difficult and the issue becomes divisive among a number of claimants.
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