Vatican call on Catholics to build Papua peace

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 reports.

"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. Wamena, capital of Jayawijaya district, is 3,465 km east of Jakarta.

According to government statistics, the largely Protestant district has a population of 313,961. Protestants make up 82 per cent, while Catholics make up 15 per cent and Muslims 1.5 per cent, 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."

Local people hoped the Pope "will continuously give them spiritual support and prayer for their welfare," he added.

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.

Bougainville ex-soldiers surrender

Meanwhile, Fijilive, reports that four former Fiji soldiers hired by conman and self-proclaimed king Noah Musingku to train his private army on Bougainville have surrendered to police in the company of a local Catholic priest.

The four joined Musingku last year at his jungle base at Tonu, in the island's rebel-held no-go zone.

But they appeared to have given up hope of receiving the $1US million each Musingku had promised them.

One other Fijian remains at large but police said they hoped he too would surrender.

His four colleagues arrived in Bougainville's main town of Buka on Tuesday night accompanied by a Catholic priest and a church elder and were taken into custody, police said.

Musingku runs the discredited U-Vistract fast money scheme and is wanted by Papua New Guinea authorities on fraud and other charges.

Vatican nuncio urges Catholics in tribal-conflict areas to build culture of peace (Catholic Online, 21/2/07)
Ex-soldiers surrender in Bougainville (Fijilive, 21/2/07)

Jayapura Justice and Peace Office alleges abuse in Papua (CathNews, 27/6/06)
Nun identifies key to understanding West Papua tension (CathNews, 13/4/06)

22 Feb 2007