7 Jun 2013

Science needs to be understood to combat sorcery, says PNG delegate

2:25 pm on 7 June 2013

A member of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Papua New Guinea says churches need to educate their followers about the science behind illness in order to prevent sorcery-related killings.

Father Philip Gibbs, who is at a conference about sorcery-related killings in Melanesia that ends today, says people often don't understand the basic science behind a person's health.

He says when someone dies, some people will immediately blame black magic and hunt down the alleged sorcerer, and then proceed to torture and kill them.

Mr Gibbs says a culture of blame and revenge is pervasive in PNG, and people need to be better educated.

"To try to help people come to a more scientific understanding of how things happen and why things happen. For instance, if somebody has an accident here usually the question asked will be 'well, who's behind it?' They're always looking for a personalised form of evil that's behind it."

Philip Gibbs says people need to know that illness is a natural occurrence that is often brought on by viruses and bacteria, not sorcery.