Media and Communications Office
On 8 March 2018, PNG suffered a 6.7 aftershock in the Highlands which had been hit with a 7.5 quake on 26 February 2018, leaving more than 100 dead and many more hundreds without basic necessities.
Pacific island nations will be the first to bear the full impact of climate change, and Papua New Guinea is among the most vulnerable.
As the capital of PNG and the largest city in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand, Port Moresby is a fitting location to discuss the effects of climate change and the Church’s response.
Secretary of State at the Vatican Cardinal Parolin is among many visitors to the four-yearly Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania which commenced today and concludes on 17 April.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressing the assembly
The Federation is made up of over 80 Bishops from Australia, New Zealand, PNG and Solomon Islands, and other Pacific nations. This year the Assembly’s theme is ‘Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities’.
Human rights and environmental care and protection underlay the Assembly’s discussions, with particular focus on social displacement and unrest, climate change and harmful environmental practices such as deep-sea bed mining and overfishing. Also discussed will be the growing influence of unsavoury business and political interests buying influence in the Pacific.
Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat M.S.C. officially welcomed Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State on Thursday. Cardinal Parolin has been in this role since 2013, and has worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See for thirty years.
Cardinal Parolin opened with an overview of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical dealing with climate change, environmental degradation and sustainable development.
Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat M.S.C. officially welcomed Cardinal Parolin
Assembly Executive Member, Bishop Charles Drennan said he was delighted that Cardinal Parolin, was speaking on Laudato Si’, saying the Cardinal’s voice ‘echoed Pope Francis’ voice and gestures for justice and care of our planet home’.
Chairing the first session was Bishop Robert McGucken, Vice President of FCBCO. Among the other speakers at the Assembly are Father Clement Taulam of PNG who will discuss the current situation around Manus Refugees and his work in this area. Last year, Father Clement made headlines in defying the PNG and Australian governments in calling for assistance for the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus, and for a peaceable solution to the standoff inside the condemned Australian-run detention centre.
Among those representing Australia at the assembly was Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne Terence R Curtin DD.
One of the world's leading experts on climate change policy and environmental and energy policy, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer from the Technical University of Berlin, will be sharing his expertise with the Assembly in the context of Catholic Social Teachings.
Towards to end of the assembly, attendees will take part in a mass with local communities and a formal dinner with the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.