by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV News, Kokopo
Over the last 14 years, the catholic archdiocese of Rabaul had disposed of up to 200 hectares of church-owned land back to its rightful custodians.
It was a step viewed by the Catholic church as a means of helping the needy.
This follows a request from the Roman Catholic hierarchies in Rome to give the land back to the men, women and children who need it.
Today the head of the Catholic Church in Rabaul, Archbishop Fancisco Panfilo, announced the interest of the church.
“Let us ask ourselves, what kind of world do you want to leave for those who come after us…to the children who are now growing up? I think that is a very important question that churches, politicians should pay attention to,” Archbishop Panfilo said.
East New Britain is a catholic dominated province.
Early catholic missionaries settled in East New Britain in the early 1970’s.
Land was an important element that the missionaries needed to build the churches on and spread the gospel.
So the missionaries acquired the land from the natives through various means of agreements.
Until recently, the church began giving back the land to its rightful owners.
This includes the disposing of land, especially of large plantations; to help start a housing project for low-income earners on church lands and to be a mediator in land issues.
“I’m asking the people to take advantage of this and do something great for themselves,” the archbishop said.
Like anywhere else in Papua New Guinea; land remains a major issue of concern for many landowners.
In most cases, land issues in PNG ends in higher courts or resulted to rage and death when solved out of court.
The head of catholic faithfuls in East New Britain says the church wants to make sure that the people are involved with the developments around them, which is the national government’s goal to develop ordinary people in the village.
While businesses are poised to expand in Kokopo, more land will be needed for the town’s expansion.
Archbishop Panfilo said it is through the disposing of land, that signifies the church’s partnership with the people and the government to bring development.