Catholic Church talks on collapse in partnership with State

The Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) says there has been a collapse in its partnership with the State in the delivery of education and health services.

President of the CBC, Bishop Arnold Orowae said the historical relationship between the Catholic Church and the State has great potential for good.

“But this relationship is poorly understood today and lies in tatters and needs repair without delay.

 “The Catholic communities call on Catholic men and women and others of good will, who hold power and distribute services, to carry out their responsibilities with honesty, fairness, and justice, while also exercising a preferential option for the poor,” said Orowae.

He went on to say that Catholic-run schools needed help. He explained that for economic reasons, the Catholic Education Services had joined with the Government system to form an association of equals in a unified system of education in PNG.

“This partnership endures but seems little respected by National and Provincial Departments of Education, since they rarely consults their partner when setting new policies and making changes to the education system. 

“We find that the partnership we entered into with the State many years ago is now in crisis, even in chaos.

“For example, it is well known that there are major problems and imbalances in the provision of Tuition Fee Free education (TFF).

“Despite many attempts to discuss issues related to education with the state, we feel that we are steadily losing control of our schools,” said Orowae.

He finished by stressing on the state of the Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS).

“The recent cuts in funding for church run health services, salaries and operational, is a shockingly ignorant and insensitive decision by Government. 

“The cuts will have a major negative impact on our healing ministry in general, particularly in rural areas where population concentration is high and mobility to seek health care outside the area very low.

“ In 2013 the Prime Minister of PNG visited the Bishops during their annual meeting which was held in Madang. 

“He promised to arrange a meeting between representative Bishops and respective Education and Health Ministers and Secretaries to discuss problems and iron out difficulties. 

“Unfortunately these meetings did not eventuate, so urgent issues still remain unresolved.  We renew our desire to hold such meetings.

“In all of this, we are more and more aware of the rather sad state of the PNG economy and wonder why this is so,” said Orowae

Troy Taule