PNG Bishops pay tribute to former PM Skate

The Catholic Church, with whom late Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir William Skate had clashed on a number of occasions, has offered its condolence to the family of the late leader, who died last week.

The National reports that the Bishops asked that he be remembered in the role he played for the restoration of peace on Bougainville.

President of the Conference for PNG and Solomon Islands Bishop Francesco Sarego said in a statement that Sir William was a controversial figure but also a person who had attracted a loyal following among many of the poor and underprivileged.

He said Bishops of the Catholic Church were among those who voiced concern at times when actions of the Skate Government (1997-1999) appeared to be ill advised or wrong.

"Sir William accepted the criticism with grace. In 1999, he responded to Church criticism by asking the Catholic Bishops for an opportunity to address them, and traveled to Vunapope in ENB to convey his views and listen to the views of the bishops. He confronted his critics and was prepared to give them opportunities to express their views. These were attributes of the former prime minister which will be long remembered," Bishop Sarego said.

He said PNG should never forget the role Sir William played in encouraging peace to replace bitter warfare on Bougainville.

Former Governor General Sir Silas Atopare also paid tribute to the leader, describing him as a man of the little people whose untimely death was a loss to his family, the people of NCD and PNG.

Catholic Church bishops remember Sir William (The National 9/1/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Sir William Skate (London Times 6/1/06)

10 Jan 2006