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Bishop Michael’s Letter

23 February, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Welcome to our first e-newsletter for the year and I am very appreciative of the good work Sr Kym does in collating and bringing this newsletter to you each month.

I have just returned from the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) in Fiji. It was a marvellous time of the gathering of all the Bishops from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Australia and of the Pacific from our close neighbours, New Caledonia out to Tahiti and up to the Islands of Guam. You could appreciate that it was a very rich gathering of all the Bishops from this part of the world. The meeting happens every four years although the COVID pandemic slowed it down a little as it has been five years since we last met in Port Moresby. It is a wonderful week to experience our collegiality and fraternity as a group of Bishops and spending some time on some of the issues that effect this part of our continent. Being in Fiji and Suva we are acquainted with the exploitation and with the way that climate change is effecting many of the Pacific nations including Kiribati to the North.

Our day trips took us to a gravel mining site where river gravel is mined for road base however with the gravel coming out of the river it has changed the ecology of that river system which has caused pollution, changed fishing and more worrying greater erosion has happened around this river. Another site we visited was the coastal edge where the trade winds were eroding the coast because of the change of climate and the rising of the sea levels at high tide. Our agency Caritas was there assisting the local villagers and the people in their work of development. As we begin Lent, we are only too aware of the great work that Caritas does through Project Compassion assisting the peoples of Oceania and especially our own local Pacific area.

The week was also an opportunity to discuss the Synod documents and the responses from the four continents that make up the churches of  Oceania and together we discussed the final synthesis to be sent to Rome for the Synod in Rome in October this year and the following year.

We heard from Cardinal Michael Czerny and he spoke very clearly of the role of the dicastery for integral human development as it looks after the many aspects of the pastoral outreach of our church. The role of the dicastery is to assist in the works of the church in areas of injustice, insecurity, economy and work, care of creation, human rights, sickness, migration and humanitarian disasters. We are only too much aware in the last few months we have been fronted with the disasters of the earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria in the last few days, and the devastating effect of cyclone Gabriel in New Zealand our close neighbour. Our work with Caritas helps with aid to these areas but we as a Catholic family are looking out for these countries.

You can find links to videos from the week in this edition of the e-newsletter.

With the celebration of Ash Wednesday, we are reminded as we begin our Lent together it is a time for prayer, fasting and good works. May this Lent be a very special time for all of us as we grow closer to our Lord and prepare ourselves for the Easter Tridium where we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May God bless you all.