Pacific Caritas agencies set a direction for the future

Representatives from Caritas agencies in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga attended a forum in Cairns last week.

Also present were representatives from countries not yet members of the Caritas network, reflecting the forum theme of ‘Our Family, Our Future’ and strengthening ties with French- and English-speaking peers.

Forum delegates were welcomed by Bishop James Foley of Cairns and accompanied in their reflection by Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Brisbane), vice-president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong (Suva, Fiji), and Bishops Peter Brown (American Samoa) and Jozef (Wewak, PNG).

Topics of conversation were questions about preparedness for humanitarian emergencies, especially those caused by climate change; migration being caused by climate change and rising sea levels; mining and seabed mining in the region; and questions about human rights.

The forum:

  • welcomed the recent statement of the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) which expressed concern about the exploitation of our seas and the situation of the people of West Papua;
  • was encouraged by the fact that that next year’s FCBCO assembly theme will be: Care for our common home of Oceania: a sea of possibilities;
  • identified the strengths and achievements of the Oceania agencies and the priorities for collective action over the next two years;
  • was given a global vision by Michel Roy, Secretary-General of Caritas International (CI) and updates from delegates on various CI working groups.

The forum also heard the experiences of members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

As well as sharing stories about discrimination against their peoples since European settlement, they spoke of their deep relationships with the land, with their ancestors, and of their hope for the future.

These considerations led the Caritas network in Oceania to focus on three main areas over the next two years:

  • Climate change and environmental justice
  • Indigenous perspectives on Catholic social teaching
  • Becoming a more effective and broader organisation

Read the press release

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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