Martyrs of 2014

Vatican City – According to information in our possession, during 2014, 26 pastoral care workers were killed worldwide, three more compared to 2013. For the sixth consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral care workers killed is AMERICA.
In the past decade , 230 pastoral workers, including 3 Bishops were killed worldwide.The pastoral care workers who died violently in 2014 are: 17 priests, 1 religious man, 6 religious sisters, 1 seminarian, 1 lay person. In America: 14 pastoral care workers were killed ; in Africa 7 pastoral care workers were killed ; in Asia two pastoral care workers were killed ; in Oceania two pastoral care workers were killed ; a priest was killed in Europe.
We cannot but mention those who were killed not by the hand of a criminal but by the Ebola virus, which is claiming thousands of victims in West Africa, where the Catholic facilities, and not just healthcare, have been mobilized since the outbreak of the epidemic. Four confreres who belonged to the Religious Family of the Hospitaller Brothers died in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and a religious sister and thirteen employees of the hospitals in Monrovia and Lunsar died after having contracted the virus. “Our Confreres gave their lives for others, just like Christ, to the point of dying infected by this epidemic” wrote Friar Jesús Etayo, Prior General. A similar fate befell the six Italian missionary Sisters of the Poor of Bergamo who died in Congo in 1995 after having contracted the Ebola virus in order not to leave the population without health care. In 2013 the beatification process of the six Italian missionaries was opened.
As it has been for some time, Fides’ list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense, but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths. We do not propose to use the term “martyrs”, if not in its etymological meaning of “witnesses” since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the scarsity of available information in most cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death.Once again the majority of the pastoral care workers in 2014 were killed in attempted robbery, and in some cases violently attacked, a sign of the climate of moral decline, economic and cultural poverty, which generates violence and disregard for human life. They all lived in these human and social contexts, carrying out the mission of proclaiming the Gospel message without making sensational acts, but by witnessing their faith in the humility of daily life.
Some were killed by the same people they helped, others opened the door to those who asked for aid and were attacked, others were killed during a robbery, but the reason why many other assaults and kidnappings ended tragically remain unclear.In 2014 the murderers of the Bishop of La Rioja , Mgr. Enrique Angelelli were sentenced, 38 years after the assassination of the Archbishop and where it was thought that he had died because of a car accident; also the instigators and perpetrators of the assassination of Mgr. Luigi Locati, Apostolic Vicar of Isiolo , who was murdered in 2005, were sentenced; those responsible for the death of the Rector of the Seminary in Bangalore , Fr.Thomas, killed in 2013 were also arrested.
There is still much concern regarding the fate of other pastoral care workers kidnapped or have disappeared, of whom we have not had any news, such as the three Congolese Augustinian priests of the Assumption, kidnapped in North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in October 2012, the Italian Jesuit Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, abducted in Syria in 2013, or Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, who was kidnapped on June 2 in Herat, Afghanistan.On May 24, the PIME missionary Fr. Mario Vergara, and the lay catechist Isidore Ngei Ko Lat, killed in hatred of faith in Burma, in 1950, were beatified. “Their heroic fidelity to Christ can be encouragement and example to missionaries and especially to catechists who in mission lands carry out a valuable and irreplaceable apostolic work”, said Pope Francis.
The provisional list compiled annually by Fides, must therefore be added to the long list of many of whom there may never be news, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ. Link correlati :Fides Special


Against witch hunters

A Catholic Bishop in Papua New Guinea has announced that the diabolical Papua New Guinean tendency to hunt and slay persons alleged to be witches shall be combated in the coming year.

During an intense New Year interview yesterday, PNG’s Enga Provincial Catholic Bishop of Wabag Arnold Orowae stated that witch hunting; the subjugation of women caused by it and the overall negative image the act portrays shall be addressed by the Catholic Church.

Bishop Orowae who has served in the province for over a decade said that as the sun sets on 2014, it is the Catholic Church’s utmost intent to turn the tables on the centuries’ old practice of witch hunting making the hunters, ‘the hunted.’ He expressed his disgust at people who call themselves Christians and go around spreading dissension and unsubstantiated lies linking innocent individuals to the macabre and morbid realm of sorcery. The Bishop furthered that it was the Catholic Orders’ plan to seek out groups and persons who supposedly hunt witches and stop them by showing them the error in their belief system. Bishop Orowae also said that the Church’s fight against these witch hunters when identified would be taken on jointly with the police if need arose or rebuked persons remained unrepentant.

Speaking in light of the Christmas Day incident that involved a group in the Wanakipa area of Hela Province who allegedly hunted down and almost succeeded in killing four women accused of witch craft, Bishop Orowae said it was the Church’s absolute resolve to initiate a halt to such incidents that have held an oppressive power over women in particular. It was disclosed that over 25 women alone have been killed over the past ten years after being accused of witchcraft.

Bishop Orowae pointed out that witch hunters always hide their murderous intentions under a self-deceiving veil of good will ordaining themselves the judge, jury and executioners of otherwise innocent women. “The unethical and unlawful killing of women alleged to be witches must and will be stopped in 2015. “The Catholic Church is therefore taking the stand to ex-communicate any persons or groups that wish to continue the occult practice. “We will work with NGO’s and slowly entice the government into taking a more prominent role in fighting this adopted act that has destroyed the country socially through its oppression of women, culturally through the false claim of it being a domestic practice and where the country’s reputation is concerned on the world front,” Bishop Orowae said.

PNG Today/Post Courier (Franklin Kolma) – 31 Dec 2014


Year 2004 very good for PNG

The year 2014 has been very good for Papua New Guinea. In Education PNG is nearly achieving Number 2 of the Eight (8) United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which is Universal Primary Education. It is still a challenging task for the Government and other NGOs to reach the target. About 500,000 school aged children are not going to school yet. But we are getting there. The Government also helped the churches with K25 million through the Department of Planning and Church State Partnership (CSP) program to fund projects in Education and Health.

In Health, PNG is gradually winning its fight against Malaria according to Dr. James Wangi. 1.6 million cases were recorded annually and about 600-700 died every year from Malaria. But this figure has decreased significantly thanks to the successful partners.

There are other developments in the country: better roads; more schools and health centres; more human resources and better equipped. LNG and other natural resources bring in wealth to our economy. Government is better focused with regard to development.

PNG was ranked second among 37 countries of the western Pacific region in Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence and death rates. About 14,000 people were affected annually and more than 4,000 people die every year. We have a long way to go.

With regard to Corruption, PNG ranks 145 out of 174 countries in 2014 (Corruption Perception Index collated by Transparency International) while it ranked 154 in 2011. It is good to know that many prominent leaders who were involved in corruption are behind bars and others are facing justice. There is a slight improvement but a lot to be desired.

Law and order is still a big problem for the country. Two disciplinary forces themselves had their problems and are not resolved yet. Violence against women and sorcery-related crimes are on the increase.

The results of the 2011 census were published this year. PNG has a population of 7.24 million and 96% are Christians.

I pray that God bless the leaders of our country, of the churches and of other religions in PNG.

I wish everyone A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2015.

Fr.Victor Roche, SVD – General Secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua new Guinea & Solomon Islands.


Appeal for Nimoa

Alotau – “I launch an emergency appeal for the people of the Southeast of my diocese, Alotau. Thousands of people are suffering from a severe shortage of food and are starving because of Ita cyclone, which hit the southern coast of the Southeast last April, and destroyed most of their crops”: is the message by Mgr. Rolando C. Santos, C.M, Bishop of Alotau, deeply concerned about a portion of the People of God entrusted to him. “Father Tony Young, MSC, pastor in Nimoa, has worked hard – the Bishop recently said in a statement – in demanding aid and distributing food to about 800 families. We have asked the help of the provincial government of Milne Bay. We are also appealing to local people, asking them to bring aid to the Church in these days of the Christmas novena”, remarked Mgr. Santos. “Caritas Papua New Guinea provided humanitarian aid last May. However it is especially in this period that the people of Nimoa is experiencing a situation of serious need. We renew the appeal to the Caritas network but also to all other dioceses and institutions. We welcome any form of support”.


From Myanmar to PNG

By Fr Robert Moe – Goodenough Island, MBP

Fr Robert Moe, an ethnic Kaya from the mountains of Myanmar, a country where Catholics are 1% of the population, discovered his vocation as a seminarian and became a missionary. The journey of the 35-year-old priest reflects the fate of the Church in Myanmar, which is marking the 500th anniversary of its first evangelization this year and with the rest of the country is now opening up to the world.

Fr Robert, tell us about yourself

I was born in 1979. I entered the diocesan seminary in Myanmar at 14. In 2003 I met some of the PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) fathers who were teaching there. I particularly remember a talk with Italian Fr Adrian Pelosin. At that time, he was working in Thailand, but he often came to see us. That year, he spoke to us about the life of a missionary, about his work. This generated a desire in me for the missions outside the boundaries of my diocese. Fr Adrian told us that “if you become a missionary, you cannot count on staying in your country, tribe, diocese or family. They send you out of your culture and geographical boundaries, because this is the missionary vocation”. That sparked my interest even more. I was struck by Fr Adrian’s experience, the way he was living his charisma, his relationship with the Buddhists, his love and concern for street kids. After talking with our bishop, three of us from the diocese of Loikaw made the decision to join PIME.

What did your missionary experience give you?

I suggested to my superiors to send me to Papua New Guinea because I loved forests more than cities. But when I arrived I noticed the difference. In my home State of Kaya there are mountains. In Milne Bay there is only water; you go on the sea, by boat. I went to Watuluma at Goodenough Island. I found it hard to adapt to the local way of thinking. There, the priest must do a bit of everything. The priest must sometimes be a judge, sometimes a teacher. So I often feel unable to take on all these roles. In addition, the culture is different. Sometimes you say something and locals understand something else. It is a cultural shock. Anyway, I am glad for these years.

With all the needs one can see in Myanmar, what is the point of going on mission elsewhere?

My friends asked me that same question several times. I myself tried to find an answer. In Myanmar, Christians (Protestants and Catholics) are at best five per cent of the population. In Papua New Guinea most people are Christians. We are here to help the local Church grow and mature. For my part, I do what other missionaries have done, when they brought the faith to Myanmar. I received the faith because others made this choice before me, abandoning their country and their people. They came to us to pass on the faith. Now it is up to us to pass it on ourselves. In my diocese and in my country, we need to understand the urgency of passing on the faith to the world. This is why I am here. (

Media release

Where is the money for health?

Health services in Papua New Guinea are suffering because the Government is not releasing funds promptly enough.

Chairman of Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS), Archbishop Stephen Reichert expressed his disappointment that the release of salary and operational funds to the Churches is frequently delayed.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to health care in the latest budget.”

“However, we urge the Government to release funds on time to Churches who run health facilities in partnership with the Government Department of Health.”

“Over the past 18 months there have been frequent delays in the release of salary and operational grants for Church-run facilities.   As a result, many Church health workers are not paid for up to two or three months at a time. Surely this injustice and violation of the rights of Church health care providers is avoidable.”

“The constant delay in funding is unacceptable to the Church and disrespectful to the Church health workers who provide lifesaving services,” he said.

Archbishop Reichert explained that the Churches provide close to 50 per cent of all health care in Papua New Guinea; in remote and rural areas, where the majority of the people in the country live, that figure increases to around 80%.”

“I often hear that the Government seeks to work in closer partnership with Churches. Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) welcomes this,” he said.

“By providing health services, the Churches actually save the Government money, but more importantly, they provide health services to people in areas the Government cannot reach.”

“On the Government’s part a clear expression of partnership is to pay the Churches on time, every time and according to budget so that the Churches can pay their workers on time.”

“The frequent late release of salary and operational grants is puzzling. Doesn’t Government care about Church health care providers and their families? Doesn’t Government care about the health of the people these health workers serve?   We are given no explanation,” he said.

“Church Health workers are highly committed people who often work in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.”

“The very late payment of salaries, in particular, has adverse impacts on morale and performance.”

“If the Government is truly handing down a budget for families and the whole community, it must meet its basic commitment of paying Church health workers in a timely and just manner.”

Archbishop Reichert noted that the Government’s commitment of ensuring equal pay of Church and government workers has not yet fully happened. (24th November 2014)

 For more information contact Archbishop Stephen Reichert on 72485071


Hela in the grip of tribal fights

By Fr Nicholas Yambu – Tari, Hela

There are three or four tribal fights now in Hela province. I have been here in Mendi for this week and I hear that two new tribal fights have started in the Koroba Kopiago electorates. I don’t know if this is true. As of two weeks ago the fighting zones involved only the two electorates of Tari Pori and Komo Margarima. These two electorates have been declared fighting zones by the government.

Tribal fights in the Hela area are a common thing. The recent fights have been different though as traditional rules of fighting and engagement are not observed. In the past rival enemies were not allowed to burn houses when their enemies are inside the house or asleep. It was also a taboo to kill women and children or to hunt and kill an enemy in other people’s territory. Only people who are directly related to the fight were considered enemies. But these rules of engagement are broken now and women and children have been killed in these fights. About ten years ago I didn’t see any factory made guns used in tribal fights. Now the M16 is considered an ordinary gun in the area.
I don’t believe that the declaration of fighting zone will really solve the problem because the fights are mostly happening in the bush. Enemies are hunting each other and mobile phones are being used which makes it easier to identify enemy targets. The culprits or “owners of fights”, as they say here, will easily hide.

The fights have started over different things. People may fight over one thing such as a pig, but it is easily connected with a previous tribal rivalry or political differences. I’m sorry I can’t say what these fights are really about. These people have so many different fights over different things so frequently that over time it becomes complex and hard to trace the cause of the fights sometimes.
The government services in the towns and in no-fighting areas are still operating. People who are not related to the fight are free to go into towns and move around.

As far as the Church work goes, things are not affected as much. Church buildings are generally respected by the warring tribes. Only the Church workers and Christians from the warring tribes are affected and are in hiding. Some have taken refuge in other areas. And so those affected can’t gather for Church meetings and activities.
Declaring a state of emergency and pouring in more police and army or money is a short term solution. Long term measures are to be taken if Hela is to stop these fights and move ahead with development. The leaders starting with the elected MPs must cooperate, work together, and pour in their resources to address these issues. They must spend more time in their electorates in Hela and be in regular contact with their people. Their people must see them as being on the ground with them to address the issues head-on instead of living in Port Moresby and only coming into Tari to distribute money or on important occasions.

Money allocated for development by the government must be used for the intended purposes so that people can see real change happening in their places and make them happy. When you have so many unhappy and frustrated people, it leads to things like the tribal fights we are seeing. Leaders must come down to the level of the people and empower their people for their own development instead of making them wait around for cash-handouts. Hela leaders must work in partnerships with the Churches, such as the Hela Council of Churches to address some of these issues. Unless there is a real political will and heart for the people, very little is going to be achieved.