PNG Catholic conference slams speaker over carvings removal
Papua New Guinea's Catholic Bishops' Conference warns about a rise in fundamentalism after PNG's parliament speaker orders removal of traditional carvings from the iconic parliament building's facade.
Papua New Guinea New Guinea's Catholic Bishops' Conference has slammed a move by the speaker of parliament to remove traditional carvings from the iconic parliament building's facade.
Speaker Theo Zurenuoc says the carvings are elements of cult and demonic practices and unworthy of a Christian country, and has targeted other treasured cultural items in the parliament for removal.
Amid a public outcry over the move, the conference general secretary Father Victor Roche has warned about the rise of fundamentalism in PNG.
He told Johnny Blades fundamentalists cannot seem to distinguish between the novelty of the Gospel and the need to preserve cultural heritage.
VICTOR ROCHE: I requested not only the Catholic church, but also the mainline churches, we are not happy that the thing is happening. The things that are removed, they are representing a culture. So he is trying to remove the culture. And it has been there for so many years and the people respected it is Papua New Guinea New Guinea culture. Now somebody is coming maybe with a touch of fundamentalism from some of the smaller churches, and he's trying to remove them. And it's not good. And I don't think it is going well either with the Papua New Guineans. So there was not too much consultation given by the other ministers or parliamentarians. There should have been some consultation before such a thing is happening.
JOHNNY BLADES: Do you see much of that fundamentalism emerging in Papua New Guinea?
VR: It is coming up. The fundamentalism is creeping into.... Many mainline churches are losing some of their believers to smaller sects. So some of these ideas are coming up.
JB: Also, are you seeing more fundamentalists in positions of power in the government and parliament and so forth?
VR: Actually, yeah. Some of these members are also in... either they are in the places of power in the parliament or government offices or they are influenced by others who are members of these groups.
JB: Do you think that's fair that Zurenuoc is touching on something which is very sensitive when he's calling these things part of a cult?
VR: I think there is an element of cult in some generations in Papua New Guinea, it's true. But that is something very different. It's nothing to do with this kind of culture. And I don't think it is fair that he connects cult and this kind of culture. So I don't think they should be connected.
JB: Do you think it's possible to stop him doing more of this stuff because he's got more of the artefacts in his sights to remove?
VR: I was talking to the director of the museum, the PNG National Museum, and he is surely not happy. So he is trying to talk with different ministers and secretaries and parliamentarians so that it can be stopped.
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