Papua New Guinean Catholics have gathered with local media to discuss charges of sorcery, which there often end in violence against the accused, reports the Catholic News Agency.
Observing World Communications Day, the meeting was titled 'Church and Media – A Joint Reflection on Sorcery', and held on January 24, the feast of St Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, in Boroko, Port Moresby.
The social communications office of the Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands hosted the conference for local journalists.
The Melanesian nation consists of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, as well as numerous other, smaller, islands. It is located north of Australia and east of Indonesia. Nearly all of its population is Christian - and 27 percent is Catholic - yet many PNG Christians integrate indigenous beliefs and practices into their religious life.
Many believe in sorcery, and those accused of practicing it – a majority of whom are women – are at times subject to mob attacks and murder.
The conference featured a presentation by an Italian missionary and sociologist, Fr Franco Zocca, who discussed the Church's attitude toward magic and sorcery, as well as data collected by the Melanesian Institute, which studies indigenous cultures of the region.
Fr Zocca coordinated a four year research study on sorcery in Papua New Guinea, and told conference attendees that 'only scientific enlightenment and a massive education effort can help overcome sorcery beliefs' in the country.
FULL STORY Church in Papua New Guinea warns against sorcery, violence (CNA)