Caption: Bishops at the Meeting In New Zealand. Picture courtesy of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference
Climate change and the liberty for West Papua are high on agenda at the executive committee meeting, of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conference of Oceania in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Bishops have called on members of parliament and government authorities to have a particular duty, and is to promote long term economic and social development and to be vigilant in guarding against any attempts by international businesses to exploit common resources.
Papua New Guinea’s Cardinal, His Eminence, Sir John Ribat is also attending and with other bishops has urged on the care for the sea and support the indigenous people of West Papua.
As Bishops of the Pacific, they said: ‘Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many, the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood’.
The Bishops were heartened to learn of the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats.
The Bishops say that the interest in the blue economy is to uphold models of development which respects the fundamental importance of sustainability and looks way beyond any perceived short term economic windfall.
While they applaud government, community and private initiatives to develop water ecotourism and sustainable sea fishing, they want to look at the common good and thus advocate for an integrated approach to development where local customary practices are respected and communities are assisted to grow employment opportunities.
The bishops believe the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua, the Bishops indeed believe, should be cared for to uphold and strengthen local institutions of democracy may be overlooked.
They have echoed the call for quality education in Papua, for fair and transparent access to jobs, training programmes and employment, for respect of land titles, and for clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce.
The large majority of indigenous people of Papua seek peace and the various dialogue groups, advocating and witnessing to peaceful co-existence, are a source of hope for all.
Meanwhile, the Plenary Assembly will be held in Port Moresby on April 2018, under the theme: ‘Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities.’