OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Mgr. Panfilo: “The Church is called by the Gospel to work for justice”

Rabaul (Agenzia Fides) – “I want to inform all candidates in the national elections that the Archdiocese of Rabaul and the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands will give weight to the issue of the expulsion of lay Catholic missionary Douglas Tennent from New Zealand, since the institutions seem to want to say that working for justice does not fall within the sphere and the task of religious leaders”: with these words, expressed in a note sent to Fides, Mgr. Francesco Panfilo, Archbishop of Rabaul went back to the issue that shakes the Church in Papua New Guinea, while the Country lived a chaotic week in which citizens went to the polls, and after some problems registered in Port Moresby, completed the vote.
The Archbishop refers to the case that saw the lawyer and collaborator of his diocese, Douglas Tennent, suddenly expelled from the country (see Fides 14 and 20/6/2017). The measure set by the Ministry of Interior is a consequence of the Archbishop’s and Local Church’s efforts to defend the local population in the West Pomio District, as opposed to the controversy arising from the presence of a Malaysian multinational that exploits the timber of those territories to produce Palm oil.
Tennent worked for three years as an administrator in the Archdiocese of Rabaul (2014-2017) and the official reason of his expulsion was an alleged “visa violation” given his involvement in the affair of landowners in the West Pomio District, but “Tennent was only offering legal advice on behalf of the Archbishop”, highlighted Mgr. Panfilo
“For the good of the common people of Papua New Guinea, we ask the government to clarify the situation once and for all”, said Archbishop Panfilo. “Let us pray so that the elections underway give the country leaders committed to building a just and peaceful society”, he concluded, reiterating that “to support vulnerable and marginalized people in West Pomio for the Church is an evangelical mandate, as well as to educate or look after the sick”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 6/7/2017)