PNG’s prime minister invites Pope to visit


The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, has extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit his country.

O’Neill made the invitation during a meeting today with Sir John Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby who is soon to become Papua New Guinea’s first Cardinal, and Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, the new Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

“This is an honor for our people and we are proud of our first Cardinal,” said O’Neill.

“Following Cardinal Ribat’s elevation I hope now that we will be able to receive Pope Francis in Papua New Guinea.”

“Pope John Paul II visited Papua New Guinea on two occasions and people of all Christian denominations in our country would like to welcome His Holiness, Pope Francis.”

“A Papal visit brings people together, and unites them through commitment to God and Church, regardless of which denomination the are from.”

“We will continue a dialogue with representatives of the Vatican to formalise this offer for the Pope to visit.”

O’Neill also spoke highly of the role that the Church has played in PNG’s history.

“For many decades the Government did not do much in rural and remote areas, and it was the church that stepped in to help our people.”

“I know this was the case in my own district in Pangia when I was growing up, there was no Government support and this continued many years after Independence.”

Archbishop Vayalumkal recently arrived in Papua New Guinea to begin his appointment.

He has been with the Diplomatic Corps of Vatican since 1998 and worked in Hungary, Korea, Dominican Republic, Egypt and Bangladesh.

He also served in Haiti after a large earthquake in 2010 to oversee the humanitarian work taken up by the Vatican.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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