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EVANGELIZATION

The church and the poor

The recent election of Pope Francis brought about smiles on many faces and hope in many hearts around the world. Through his words and attitudes he immediately showed the clear direction he wanted to give his ministry as Bishop of Rome and leading Shepherd of the Catholic people. During his meeting with the journalists the Saturday after his election Pope Francis said: “How I would like a poor Church for the poor!”


The second Vatican council and the poor

At the end of the Second Vatican Council a group of bishops gathered at night to celebrate the Eucharist at the Catacombs of St. Domitila. During that gathering they signed a pact known as The Pact of the Catacombs. The title of the Pact they signed was A Servant and Poor Church. Later on about 500 other bishops signed the Pact. A Church that is servant and poor is a Church that is poor and for the poor. Did Pope Francis sign this Pact? It is easy to believe that he did so.


Recently I was reading a publication about the Second Vatican Council. The author of the publication was himself a Father of the Council. He was sharing that during the Council there were many informal groups formed and each one with a different interest. One of those groups was called the ‘Group of the Church of the Poor’. That group of bishops took up their interest based on words spoken by Pope John XXIII in a radio message on September 11, 1962, a month before the opening of the Council. Pope XXIII said: “The Church wants to be a Church of all the people, and in a special way the Church of the poor. The Church will become servant and poor”. These words were always present in the minds and hearts of many bishops at the Council. The bishops who were part of ‘The Group of the Church of the Poor’ met regularly to reflect on a Church for the poor and with the poor. They made sure that this message was not lost by repeating it to all the bishops through their interventions.


The author wrote that eventually there was no document written on this specific topic but that this idea had become like an undercurrent during the whole of the Council.


Some of the ideas promoted by that group of bishops were:


  • Exercise of personal and social justice, particularly with developing countries
  • Peace and unity of the human family
  • Evangelization of the poor and the people that do not come to Church
  • The demand for renewal in pastors and faithful through poverty and the poor






Let me quote from a few of the Documents of the Council


Gaudium et Spes – Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, no. 1

The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the kingdom of their Father, and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest bonds.


Ad Gentes – Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, no. 24

For he who is sent enters upon the life and mission of him who ‘emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave’ (Phil. 2: 7). Therefore, he must be ready to stay at his vocation for an entire lifetime, and to renounce himself and all those who he thus far considered as his own, and instead to ‘make himself all things to all men’ (1 Cor. 9:22)


Ad Gentes, no. 5

Since this mission goes on and in the course of history unfolds the mission of Christ himself, who was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor, the Church, prompted by the Holy Spirit, must walk in the same path on which Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death…


Presbyterorum Ordinis – Decree on the Ministry and Life of the Priests, no. 6

Although they have obligations towards all men, priests have a special obligation to the poor and weak entrusted to them for the Lord himself showed that he was united to them…


Christus Dominus – Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, no. 13

With special affection they should attend upon the poor and the lower classes to whom the Lord sent them to preach the Gospel


The Church in Papua New Guinea

The Church in Papua New Guinea doesn’t have a very long tradition as the first missionaries from Europe landed on its shores 130 years ago. The hierarchy (dioceses and archdioceses) was organized only in 1966. In some parts of the country the work of the first evangelization began only a few years before the start of the Second Vatican Council. You can then imagine how strong an impact the teaching of the Council had on the bishops and their people. I can easily say that the Church being built in Papua New Guinea is a Church of participation and communion, being faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Church. The Church of the Council is the People of God, a Mystery of Communion, the Body of Christ, a Pilgrim and Servant Church. The bishops are very united in their efforts to build a Church of the Second Vatican Council.


Some years after the Council, in 1975-1976 we organized the Self-Study of the Church, encouraging the people to take ownership of the Church and saying ‘We are the Church’.


After the Synod of Oceania in 1998, we held the General Assembly of the Catholic Church in 2004 after two years of preparation and participation of people across the country. We were promoting a Church Alive in Christ. The tangible result was the writing and acceptance of our first National Pastoral Plan aiming at including all people in the life and mission of the Church.


At this time we are going through a process of evaluation of our first National Pastoral Plan and preparing the Assembly of Faith which is to take part in November this year. The outcome of this Assembly of Faith during which representatives from all the dioceses Papua New Guinea will take part will hopefully be the writing of our second National Pastoral Plan, indicating to us the way to move forward in building a Church of communion and participation, a Church of the Second Vatican Council.


What about the in all this? Are they part of this Church?

Surely they are. Most of our people are subsistence farmers and most of them do not have access to markets. The majority of them live on approximately US$1.00 a day. They suffer much because of the incapacity of the Government to deliver essential services to them. Most dioceses still depend on generous donations from overseas for their running and survival.


If we do not fully include the poor in the life and mission of the Church we are not the Church of Jesus Christ and also not the Church of the Second Vatican Council.


In our National Pastoral Plan we had one section for the poor people. It was entitled “The Poor: self-reliant and respected” and the objective was the following:


We want the Catholic Church to be a model and witness to justice, and an advocate of justice in society. This requires that we empower people towards greater self-reliance, ensure justice in employment conditions and opportunities, and ensure respect for the rights of all but especially women and children. We must equip people with the necessary skills and methods to resolve conflicts peacefully. Similarly the Church must be a model and witness to the integrity of creation, and an advocate of care for the environment. (Alive in Christ – National Pastoral Plan for the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea, 2006-2010, page 28)


So the purpose was not only to take care of the poor but to empower them to be able to walk out of their poverty.


As we evaluate our National Pastoral Plan there are many questions for further reflection and clarification in preparation for the Assembly of Faith. For example: to what extent have we implemented the vision of the Second Vatican Council for a truly participatory church? What are the indications and signs of hope that a communitarian model of church, with a special place for the poor and disadvantaged is taking hold?


The Diocese of Daru-Kiunga

The first missionaries arrived at Kiunga on the 20th of June 1959. Our first bishop, Gerard Deschamps, a Montfort Missionary from Canada was Prefect Apostolic at the time of the Council and as such attended the four sessions of the Council. That experience had a very profound impact on him and it resulted in his desire and decision to build a Church of the Second Vatican Council in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, a Church of communion and participation. This has been the guiding principle of all our work of evangelization and human development since that time.


As we worked hard during the last 53 years, how did we take care of the poor? Have we built a Church that is poor and for the poor, a Church that is servant? There can be different kinds of poverty. It is not just about having or not having money. Some are poor because they do not have access to markets. Some are poor because there are no services coming to their villages such as health and education. Some are poor because their lack of knowledge makes them victim of the rapid changes taking place in their society. Some are poor because they cannot see the way forward for a better life.


I can honestly say that from the beginning of our Mission here, we have tried our very best to reach out to all the people, whoever they are and wherever they live, whether rich or poor, male or female, educated or illiterate. Living as Church of communion and participation implies that we believe in the equality among all those who share in that new relationship of being brothers and sisters in Christ. A Church that lives and promotes communion and participation is a Church that is inclusive of persons of all kinds because all persons are created in the image and likeness of God. We all share the same dignity. It is a Church in which all are welcome and have a part to play. We are all one in Jesus Christ. These ideas are clearly expressed and written in our Diocesan Pastoral Plan.


One concrete example of our care of the poor is the care we have been given to the refugees from West Papua since 1984. Because of the care given to them they now feel part of us.


How can we consistently and concretely follow such a direction? Is there anything in place to keep us on the right track? In our diocese we have some pastoral guidelines for our work of evangelization and human development. These are a set of ideas to keep in our minds and our hearts as we plan and program our activities. It ensures that we are in line with the model of Church we desire to build, that all the people will be invited to take an active part in the life and mission of the Church, that what we do will bring the people to live communion through relationships of love.


One point is very clear and often repeated: when we plan and program our yearly activities we keep in mind all the people, making sure that we do not forget the poor people living in the far away villages. We also make sure that the services and training offered at the main centre of the parishes are also offered to the people of the remote villages.


Let me write down a few of those pastoral guidelines that are so important in order to be inclusive and build a Church that is made up of all our people:


  • All actions start where the people are.
  • We plan and program our activities according to the needs and situation of the people.
  • We offer what the people are capable of receiving so that they can respond.
  • We are open and reach out to everyone.
  • Our invitations go out to all the people, not just to those who come to church because all are children of God.
  • We are attentive to the needs of the poor, the sick, the neglected, and we invite them to come together to proclaim their faith.
  • No one is so poor that he/she has nothing to offer.
  • Each of us has a special gift or ability to offer and to use for the life of the community.
  • It is better that many people do something than a few do everything.
  • We welcome, accept and appreciate every person’s contribution.
  • We invite everyone to share whatever they have to offer in the way that is good for them.
  • People grow when given responsibility; they are willing to give their service when asked within their ability.
  • Young and old, men and women, educated and simple people all feel invited and given the chance to participate.

With such pastoral guidelines it is difficult to leave the poor on their own and not care for them. With all the others they are the Church. Recently we had a special day for persons with disabilities. They took charge of all the responsibilities for the Sunday Eucharist and other activities afterwards. It was so touching to see them active and happy to take such an active part in the life of the Church. They feel that they belong. They are part of us as we make room for them.


The recent establishment of the Small Christian Communities is to allow all the people, including the poor, to take part in community meetings and get involved in the decisions that are taken for the common good.


The seminar for men that we are holding in all the parishes gathers together old and young men, educated and non educated men, etc. When they come together for reflection they are one.


Each year I write a Pastoral Letter on the value that is lived and promoted during the year. That letter is translated in three languages so that all the people can read it.


We care for those infected with HIV & AIDS, for Persons with disabilities, for young men who do not know what to do with their lives, for the sick and the needy. We teach people how to grow rice and make fish ponds. And most importantly the Parish teams visit the people living in the remote villages and make sure they get all the information needed for them to take an active part in the life of the parish Church. Each Parish is invited to write its yearly budget and this enables the Diocese to treat each parish equally when it comes to finances. We offer spiritual, pastoral and social services to the people and do so many other things to empower them to become responsible for their growth as persons and as communities.


Let me conclude in this way: to be poor and for the poor is never a project that is completed. It is a way of believing and being Church, a way of doing the work of evangelization and human development, the only way to be Christian because that was the way of Jesus. We can never be satisfied with what we have done or are doing for the poor. We need to look at situations with new eyes and see how we can be with the poor in this present reality and walk with them and be Church with them.


I hope and pray that during the years of service of Pope Francis our Church will become a poor Church for the poor.


Bishop of Daru-Kiunga Diocese

Level 1 - Pastoral Care of the Community

By December 2020, we the multitude, members of the Small Christian Communities and people of good will of Daru-Kiunga Diocese, have discovered the demands of faith and allowed the life and teachings of Jesus to touch our hearts. This has transformed our relationships with God, people and the world around us. It has led us to witness to our faith in our daily life as DISCIPLES OF JESUS. We have been guided to live faithfully the way of Jesus by our respective planned and programmed activities.



Rationale (Reasons)

SITUATION

We have lived Phase One of Stage Two of our Journey of Faith in which we focused on the Word of God in the Bible, and which strengthened our people.


While many of our people are faithful, there are many factors in our environment that hinder our efforts and distract us. Our fundamental problem still continues to affect our life. The crisis of leadership at the Provincial Government affects the life of the people. For some there is confusion and frustration with many things in life which leads them to cult mentality and practices. Mining, logging, and the oil industries affect the life of the people who are also influenced by the rapid and ongoing changes in society and culture. Our people are easily influenced by the fundamentalist teachings of sects and other denominations. Because of the lack of services in most of the places people are often on the move and this affects the life and development of the Small Christian Communities. Still many people have the strong desire to continue on our journey of faith. In living with this situation we feel also the lack of pastoral agents, especially priests and religious to give leadership and direction.



IDEAL

We find strength in Jesus, his teachings and his ways of living and are able to deal with the problem situations affecting our lives. Our leaders in the community and the Small Christian Community leaders are strong in their faith and lead their people well. We truly live and follow the way of Jesus by being his friends, trust God, care for others and creation, and be committed to our mission.. There is less confusion and more unity. Dialogue, co-responsibility, participation and taking ownership make us strong in our faith as Catholics.


CONVERSION
  • From taking for granted that we are good Catholics to understanding that we cannot be true Catholics unless we follow Jesus faithfully and deeply live our faith in all our daily actions.
  • From being distracted by the things of the world to focus on the way of Jesus to guide our lives.
  • From waiting for others to tell us what to do or do things for us, to taking initiatives to improve our lives.
CRITERIA:

We refer to the Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocesan Planning for the Specific Criteria for all Levels of Pastoral Activity.

Level 1.1 - Pastoral Care of the Multitude

By December 2020, we the people in the parishes have discovered the demands of faith and allowed the life and teachings of Jesus to touch our hearts. This has transformed our way of relating to God and living as sisters and brothers in Christ. We have been transformed and become better disciples of Jesus. This has been achieved through the celebration of the opportunities and the participation in the planned and programmed activities.



Rationale (Reasons)

SITUATION

We have lived Phase One of Stage Two of our Journey of Faith in which we focused on the Word of God in the Bible, and which strengthened our people. The multitude activities in some parishes helped us to be united with one another. While many of our people are faithful there are many factors in our environment that hinder our efforts and distract us. Our fundamental problem still continues to affect our life. The crisis of leadership at the Provincial Government affects the life of the people. For some of us there are confusion and frustration with many things in life which leads us to cult mentality and practices. Mining, logging, and the oil industries affect the life of the people who are also influenced by the rapid and ongoing changes in society and culture. Our people are easily influenced by the fundamentalist teachings of sects and other denominations. Because of the lack of services in most of the places people are often on the move and this affects the life and development of the Small Christian Communities. Still many people have the strong desire to continue on our journey of faith. In living with this situation we feel also the lack of pastoral agents, especially priests and religious to give leadership and direction.


IDEAL

We find strength in Jesus, his teachings and his ways of living and are able to deal with the problem situations affecting our lives. The leaders in the communities are strong in their faith and lead well their people. We truly live and follow the way of Jesus. There is less confusion and more unity. Dialogue, co-responsibility, participation and taking ownership make us strong in our faith as Catholics. Well planned opportunities bring more participation.


CONVERSION
  • From taking for granted that we are good Catholics to understanding that we cannot be true Catholics unless we follow Jesus faithfully and deeply live our faith in all our daily actions.
  • From being distracted by the things of the world to focus on Jesus.
  • From waiting for others to tell us what to do or do things for us to taking initiatives to improve our lives.
  • From planning the opportunities as usual to planning and living the opportunities more creatively.
Specific criteria of action:
All actions should:
  • Be simple and interesting so that it enables the participation of the people.
  • Be in line with the culture and good customs of the people.
  • Use the signs that are familiar and already present in the people’s culture.
  • Be carried out as a real faith and community experience of the People of God.
  • Be regular and systematic to help the people constantly grow in their faith.
  • Have a simple content and use a language that is common to all.
  • Ensure that the value promoted is highlighted in our activities.
  • The activities can take place apart from a liturgical celebration.
  • Minimum of three opportunities a year in order to bring about change in the life of the people.
Process of action:
2017

OBJECTIVE: We celebrate the multitude activities by living and promoting the way of Jesus and becoming his "FRIENDS". We promote the value of friendship.

  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect on the values related to become the FRIENDS of Jesus and collect suggestions for the sub themes for 2018: "Following Jesus in his relationship of trust to his Father".
  • In the month of August, the DTPA prepares the theme for the Opportunities for the Multitude for 2018 on the theme "Following Jesus in his relationship of trust to his Father".
  • In the month of November, at the DPAB meeting and at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA presents the texts to be finalized.
2018

Objective: We celebrate the multitude activities by living and promoting the way of Jesus in his "TRUST" to his Father. We promote the value of trust.

  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect on the value related to Following The way of Jesus in his TRUST to his Father and collect suggestions for the sub themes for 2019: "The way of Jesus as he cares for others and nature".
  • In the month of August, the DTPA prepares the theme for the Opportunities for the Multitude for 2019 on the theme "The way of Jesus as he cares for others and nature".
  • In the month of November, at the DPAB meeting and at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA presents the texts to be finalized.
2019

Objective: We celebrate the multitude activities by living and promoting the way of Jesus in his "CARE" for others and nature. We promote the value of care.

  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect on the values related to The way of Jesus in his CARE for others and nature and collect suggestions for the sub themes for 2020: "Following Jesus in his commitment to his Father".
  • In the month of August, the DTPA prepares the theme for the Opportunities for the Multitude for 2020 on the theme "Following Jesus in his commitment to his Father".
  • In the month of November, at the DPAB meeting and at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA presents the texts to be finalized.
2020

Objective: We celebrate the multitude activities by living the way of Jesus in his "COMMITMENT" to his Mission. We promote commitment.

  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect on the values related to “Following Jesus in his COMMITMENT to his Father” and collect suggestions for the theme of Phase Three of Stage Two 2021-2024: "DISCOVERING THE PERSON OF CHRIST IN HIS MYSTERY".
  • In the month of August, the DTPA prepares the theme for the Opportunities for the Multitude for 2021 on the theme "DISCOVERING THE PERSON OF CHRIST IN HIS MYSTERY".
  • In the month of November, at the DPAB meeting and at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA presents the texts to be finalized.
Level 1.2 - Pastoral Care of the Small Christian Community

By December 2020, we the people in the parishes have discovered the demands of faith and allowed the life and teachings of Jesus to touch our hearts. This has transformed our way of relating to God and living as sisters and brothers in Christ. We have been transformed and become better disciples of Jesus. This has been achieved through the celebration of the opportunities and the participation in the planned and programmed activities.

Rationale (Reasons)



SITUATION

A lot of effort has been made by the Parish Pastoral Teams and Diocesan Services to strengthen the Small Christian Communities, with positive and encouraging responses and growth in many communities. On-going support and follow-up are needed. Poor and lack of leadership has led to the death of some Small Christian Communities. Some members don’t feel the importance of the Small Christian Community meetings. Some of us like to see immediate result from our efforts. Many men and youth do not attend the Small Christian Community meetings. The constant movement of the people makes it difficult for some Small Christian Communities to have regular meetings.


IDEAL

In our Small Christian Communities, the Word of God has a powerful influence in our lives. We are alive and flourishing, with enthusiastic leaders and full participation. In the light of the Word of God we are able to deal with the social issues that challenge us and find simple and concrete ways to improve our life situations and relationships.


CONVERSION

From neglecting the Small Christian Communities and easily giving up on them to finding new ways to give them life and strengthen them. From less to more participation of men and youth in the Small Christian Community meetings.


Specific criteria of action:
  • The Small Christian Community is the first priority of our pastoral care.
  • On-going formation for the SCC leaders is organized.
  • The membership and leadership for the SCCs are re-organized where necessary.
  • Follow up the growth and the progress of the SCCs.
  • All the SCC communities should be inclusive.
  • The leaders are responsible for their SCC.
  • One parish can help another parish to form SCCs.
  • One SCC group can help another SCC group when needed.
  • Ensure the materials provided are used well.
PROCESS OF ACTION:
2017

OBJECTIVE: The SCC groups live their faith by following the way of Jesus and become his friends and disciples; we promote the value of "FRIENDSHIP".

  • The DTPA follows up the progress of the SCCs in the parishes.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect about their lives and prepare materials for the SCC topics and mini-retreats related with the value of FRIENDSHIP.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, there is a day of reflection and sharing about the SCCs follow-up.
  • In the month of August, the DTPA edits the materials collected for the mini-retreats.
  • In the month of October, the DTPA presents the mini-retreat materials at the DPAB meeting.
  • In the month of November, at the Priests’Assembly, the DTPA distributes the topics and mini-retreat materials.
  • The DTPA prepares the Report Card of the SCC on February. It is distributed during the Parish Regional Meetings, and will be collected during Priests’ Assembly.
2018

Objective: The SCC groups live their faith by following the way of Jesus in his "TRUST" to his Father and become his disciples. We promote the value of "TRUST".

  • The DTPA follows up the progress of the SCCs in the parishes.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect and prepare materials for the SCC topics and mini-retreats related with the value of "TRUST".
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, there is a day of reflection and sharing on the SCCs follow-up.
  • In the month of August, the DTPA edits the materials collected for the mini-retreats.
  • In the month of October, the DTPA presents the mini-retreat materials at the DPAB meeting.
  • In the month of November, at the Priests Assembly, the DTPA distributes the topics and mini-retreat materials.
  • The DTPA prepares the Report Card for the SCCs in February. It is distributed during the Parish Regional Meetings, and is collected during the Priests’ Assembly.
2019

Objective: The SCC groups live their faith by following the way of Jesus in his care for others and nature, and become his disciples. We promote the value of "CARE".

  • The DTPA follows up the progress of the SCCs in the parishes.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect and prepare materials for the SCC topics and mini-retreats related with the value of CARE.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, there is a day of reflection and sharing on the SCCs follow-up.
  • In the month of August, the DTPA edits the materials collected for the mini-retreats.
  • In the month of October, the DTPA presents the mini-retreat materials at the DPAB meeting.
  • In the month of November, at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA distributes the topics and mini-retreat materials.
  • The DTPA prepares the Report Card for the SCCs in February. It is distributed during the Parish Regional Meetings, and is collected during Priests’ Assembly.
2020

Objective: The SCC groups live their faith by following the way of Jesus in his commitment to his mission and become his disciples. We promote the value of "COMMITMENT".

  • The DTPA follows up the progress of the SCCs in the parishes.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, the Parish Pastoral Teams are invited by the DTPA to reflect and prepare materials for the SCC topics and mini-retreats related with the value of COMMITMENT.
  • During the Parish Regional Meetings, there is a day of reflection and sharing on the SCCs follow-up.
  • In the month of August, the DTPA edits the materials collected for the mini-retreats.
  • In the month of October, the DTPA presents the mini-retreat materials at the DPAB meeting.
  • In the month of November, at the Priests’ Assembly, the DTPA distributes the topics and mini-retreat materials.
  • DTPA prepares the Report Card for the SCCs in February. It is distributed during the Parish Regional Meetings, and is collected during Priests’ Assembly.
  • They prepare the Diocesan Planning for the next phase.