PNG Catholic Archbishop slams sorcery beliefs | Pacific Beat

PNG Catholic Archbishop slams sorcery beliefs

PNG Catholic Archbishop slams sorcery beliefs

Updated 13 February 2013, 18:19 AEDT

The Catholic Church in the highlands of Papua New Guinea must work harder to combat a belief in sorcery.

That's according to the Archbishop of Mt Hagen, Douglas Young.

Police in the city have rescued two women who in danger of being killed for alleged sorcery.

This follows an incident in which a twenty year old was doused in petrol and burnt alive on a main street after being accused of using black magic to kill a young boy.

Archbishop Young tells Bruce Hill too many people are Christians in church on Sunday, but fail to reflect than in their actions during the rest of the week,

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Douglas Young, Archbishop of Mt Hagen in the Papua New Guinea Highlands

YOUNG: This is something that we in our Bishop's Conference and I believe leaders of other churches have been addressing for sometime. It's the fundamental question of the gap between faith and life that people can know their bible, they can fill the churches on Sunday or even on Saturday and they can take part in many religious activities. But the flow on for actual behaviour is something that is often lacking, not only in terms of belief in sorcery and the ideas that result in such brutality against alleged sorcerers, but in other things also, such as in tribal fighting, political corruption mismanagement of funds. There's a wide range of activities that most people, most thinking people would consider not only non-Christian, but even not humane and this is something that we really have to tackle and we have the same question. How is it possible that people can hold such, can understand their faith and hold it so firmly in the religious dimension, but lack the flow on for a good Christian life.

HILL: So it's possible for someone to sit in a pew on Sunday, sing hymns, receive Holy Communion and then go out the next week and pay a glass man to find out which sorcerer killed his sister and then burn them alive?

YOUNG: Yes, it happens and dare I say, even in the case of pastors. They may not participate directly, in the brutal aspect of it, but I'm afraid in many cases, they are also carrying on the sorts of conversations, the sorts of inquiries, the sorts of gossip that will ultimately led to that. But as I mentioned already, that is one aspect of the problem. The other one that bothers us is a very much related one I think and that's political corruption, that people can be sitting in the pew on Sunday and even studying and reading their bible and then think nothing of stealing the money of the Board of Management or similar types of activities. Not everybody, let me make that very clear. There's still a significant number of people, who have understood the Gospel and who do lead very, very good Christian lives. The thing that worries us is that this group, whether it's a minority or about half, I would find it hard to guess does not seem able to control the other group.

HILL; What are the churches doing about this problem then?

YOUNG: Well, I can only say what I'm doing and maybe expand from there. At the moment, we are really trying to find out what happened there in this particular case in Mount Hagen. I need to work with that community. I believe that it probably was a Catholic community and we really have to talk this through. In some ways, this great tragedy and this appalling death for this innocent woman could be the key to tackling it and I don't want to lose momentum on this. As people have realised, that the whole world thinks that this is appalling and maybe they should also be recognising how appalling it is. It maybe a doorway to addressing all the factors that led up to it in terms of to my mind, the amount of gossip that goes on, the kind of way human life is regarded, especially the human life of the weak and vulnerable. It can be an opportunity to tackle this. So we'll certainly tackle it in that community. We will be tackling it at the Dioscean level. We have a peacebuilding program that deals with this among other issues related to the dignity of the human person. Regionally for us in the Highlands, we are sharing experiences about it. My neighbour, the Bishop of Kundiwana. He's done a great deal of thought and work and research on it and has come up with some very, very concrete suggestions that people can follow. So we will be presenting this to our people.Now we don't want to lose moment, but if there is a sense of shock at where certain behaviours have ended up, we want to confront it.


Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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