Thursday, February 22, 2007

Vatican representative visits Catholics in Papua

The Holy See nuncio to Indonesia has urged Catholic villagers in Indonesia's Papua province to practise Christian values and build inter-communal harmony in areas known for tribal conflicts. "There are many Papuan tribal and cultural values that are good, but there are also traditions that are harmful and which cause death," Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, told parishioners of Morning Star Church in Abmisibil, UCA News reported.

"The bad elements are, among others, tribal warfare, adultery, polygamy, idol worship and belief in ancestral spirits," said the archbishop.

The prelate's 9-12 February visit to eight parishes in Jayawijaya district, Jayapura Diocese, was the first such pastoral visit by a nuncio to the area in Indonesia's easternmost province. According to government statistics, the largely Protestant district has a population of 313,961. Protestants make up 82 percent, while Catholics make up 15 percent and Muslims 1.5 percent, with Hindus and Buddhists comprising the rest.

At Morning Star Parish, the nuncio urged Catholics to respect the dignity of others, to practice church teaching on marriage, and to build a culture of peace, justice and love. During the dialogue session with local Catholics, lay leader Beny Ningdana said: "Abmisibil people, who dwell in the border areas between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, sincerely welcome Pope Benedict XVI's representative to observe our joys and sorrows."

Accompanied by several local bishops, Archbishop Girelli also visited other parishes where Catholics welcomed the nuncio with traditional dances. They also placed the noken, a traditional Papuan bag made of netted material, around his neck, along with headdresses made of Bird of Paradise plumes.

No comments: