10/05/2014 23:20

PNG/SI Catholic Bishops strong against distorsion of family values

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands released a Pastoral Letter on "Evangelization In and Through the Family" at the end of their Annual General Assembly in Port Moresby on Thursday, 8 May 2014.

Dangers Facing the Family

... There is a great danger, a great evil, looming over society in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and that is the increasing loss of respect for one another and for human life.  This manifests itself through the many forms of violence we see in the community these days: murder, abortion, rape, tribal war, domestic violence, child abuse and others.  It is what Saint Pope John Paul II labelled a “culture of death”.  The great evil shows its face in the cults that promote devil worship, sorcery and witchcraft, in false accusations, torture and killings of innocent people.  It is evident in corruption that benefits a few and impoverishes others, and in the wanton destruction of the environment.  It is enslaving in alcohol and drug addiction and pornography. It is dehumanising in the promotion of various forms of artificial contraception, said to promote the dignity of women, but in fact having the opposite effect.

It will take a powerful and well disciplined army, a spiritual army, to combat this great evil.  True believers and disciples of Jesus from all the Christian churches, along with other people of faith, form this army.  Within the Christian communities that form the Catholic Church our spiritual groups of the laity, family people, must be in the front lines of the battle, the Legion of Mary, the Charismatics, Catholic Youth, Catholic Women Associations, Divine Mercy Prayer Groups, Antioch Youth, Catholic Men’s groups, Couples for Christ and others.  And from these lay groups more vocations to the priesthood and religious life must come.  These dedicated disciples of Jesus serve the Church by building the Kingdom of God and promoting the New Covenant, which Jesus proclaimed and established through his death and resurrection, a reality we celebrate each time we gather for the Eucharist.

Harmful Cultural Practices

There are in PNG and Solomon Islands harmful cultural practices which are not in accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ. As a result they are detrimental to Christian marriage and family life. We feel compelled to speak out about some of these in this pastoral letter. The first is polygamy. Even though the Good News of Jesus Christ has reached the ears of most people of our Christian countries and touched deeply the hearts of many, still the practice of polygamy continues. This traditional custom violates the meaning of Christian marriage, “the two become one” in an unbreakable bond of love. It demeans the dignity and worth of women who are seen as mere possessions of rich and powerful males.  Christian marriage builds on a foundation of mutual love and respect between a man and a woman. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one” (Gen 2:24). Jesus himself quotes this passage when teaching about marriage (Mt 19:5 and Mk 10:7-8), as does St. Paul when writing to the Ephesians (Eph 5:31) and the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:16).

At a time when society is focusing more and more on child abuse, a second cultural tendency has increasingly come under the spotlight.  This is the custom of “sharing” children within the line or extended family.  In some cases children are given away or even sold to people outside the family. No, it is not okay to do this. Casual child exchange violates the unique relationship of parents with their children.  Parents have a sacred obligation to love, nurture and raise their own children, care for and educate them as the special gift God has given to them, the children born to them, their own flesh and blood.  Of course there are legitimate cases where it is necessary for children to be cared for by others who are not the biological parents.  In these instances it is extremely important that the adopted child is received into the family with the same love and care as the other children...