It is the duty of the Church to assist and guide the citizens of their moral conscience. Pope Francis emphasizes that “an authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal— always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it” (No 183—Pastoral Letter, The Joy of the Gospel).
Papua New Guinea is proclaimed as Christian Country manifested in the Constitution, the National Anthem, and the National Pledge. Important Government officers are sworn in on the oath of the Bible. Recently we witnessed the House of Parliament being transformed to reflect the Christian identity of the nation. Do these signs make us really Christian nation?
During the national and local level elections, the candidates and voters may invoke their faith and pray for God’s blessing upon the country but, for many, the Christian principles and values are largely ignored. Winning a seat in the National Parliament or LLG is the only goal to be won at any cost.
During the elections many people get overwhelmed and the values of honesty, respect and integrity are lost. They break the laws governing elections by bribery, threats, cheating, and manipulation to win votes. They may win numbers but they are losing their integrity by entering into the cycle of corruption that is prevalent in the country.
The “wantok system” which had great cultural significance is being abused for selfish motives. Every voting age group should be able to vote with a clear conscience for the candidate they consider the best servant leader. All election related activities must be conducted within the specified boundaries of the law in order for it to be free, fair and safe.
Let the Christian principles and values of honesty, respect and integrity be the guide and sign posts during the coming elections. We all wish to see honest leaders managing the common resources so that the people can meaningfully benefit and build our country together.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea pray for peaceful and fruitful election outcomes. We urge you to vote wisely. All people have a moral responsibility to make PNG great and true Christian nation.
God Bless you all!
+Bishop Arnold Orowae
President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI
3 May 2017