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Children look on during a 2022 procession held in Mingende in the Kundiawa Diocese, Papua New Guinea (Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and SI)

Children and youth will be central to Pope Francis’ visit to Papua New Guinea in September, according to Fr Giorgio Licini, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Source: CNA.

Fr Licini, who is on the organising committee of the Pope’s September 6-9 visit, said young people are central in the planning of the papal trip to PNG. In the Catholic Church, “the level of participation by laity and youth is high,” he said. “Everything is ‘young’ in PNG: Church, country, modern civilisation.” 

“It was only in early October 2023 that our bishops’ conference was told that the Pope still had a great desire to visit Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea in Oceania,” Fr Licini said.

Francis is expected to visit a safe house for young girls in Vanimo, and then, in the nearby village of Baro, greet missionaries, staff, and students of a school he helped develop. In Port Moresby, the Pope intends to meet with children supported by the archdiocese’s ministries for the care of street children. 

“The youth here greatly suffer for lack of education and employment opportunities. The breakdown of the family adds to neglect, poverty, and micro-criminality,” Fr Licini said.

“Besides education and health, nowadays the social services of the Catholic Church focus on family life, child protection and promotion, domestic violence, and sorcery accusations related [to] violence, corruption awareness, and justice, peace, and reconciliation, mainly in [areas affected by tribal violence].” 

The last appointment of the papal visit in Papua New Guinea will be a youth festival at the city stadium in Port Moresby.

Isabella Saleu, a young laywoman working for Caritas Papua New Guinea said she hoped the Pope’s visit will be a “spiritually enriching experience” that will reinforce the Catholic identity in the country.

“The world needs us young people and all the enthusiasm we have to make it better, safer, happier and more Christ-like,” Ms Saleu said. 


Children and youth to play central role in Pope Francis visit to Papua New Guinea (By Kristina Millare, CNA)