by Bishop Patrick Dunn
The Federation of Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania have elected Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby as president of their federation, and the vice president is Bishop Robert McGuckin of
Toowoomba.

Port Moresby Bishop John Ribat

The next assembly will be in Papua New Guinea in 2018.
The Wellington archdiocese hosted the 80-plus bishops of the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) from May 12 to 16.
The first powerful keynote presentation was from Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin.
In a second keynote presentation, Bishop Barry Jones and Mike Stopforth of Christchurch diocese spoke of the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on pastoral planning in their diocese. They highlighted the trauma experienced by using dramatic footage of the quakes.
Bishop Jones said that even before this tragedy, that has reduced by half the number of churches available for use in Christchurch, there had been plans to review parish structures that were ideal for the 1950s but less appropriate for the 21st century.
Mr Stopforth said the bishop was very clear that all people must have access to Sunday Mass, but future churches will be larger, to accommodate at least 500 people.
In the third keynote speech, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong from Suva tried to analyse the development of the “coup culture” in Fiji, and the reason why the churches often remained detached
during the four coups of recent years.
He denounced “Patron-client” politics, where people voted for their particular candidate in expectation of favours for their region in return.
The archbishop warned that this selfish attitude would never bring unity to any nation. Quoting Pope Francis, who said he would prefer a Church that was “bruised and hurting and dirty”
because it was out on the streets, the archbishop argued that Christians must be involved in practical actions for the good of society.
Other highlights included visits to the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, and Mass with secondary pupils from throughout the archdiocese at St Patrick’s College, Kilbirnie. At the college
Mass, Archbishop Adrian Smith from Honiara captured the students with his Irish charm and received spontaneous applause after urging all present to help renew the Church with their
youthful joy.
Following the Mass there was a massed haka, which led one Australian bishop to comment: “If that is what they are like when we are friendly, I would hate to see them if they thought we were hostile.” The haka had received 13,000 hits on YouTube by the following morning!
Archbishop John Dew of Wellington and the people of the archdiocese were outstanding hosts during May to the meeting of the 80-plus bishops of the FCBCO.
The week featured the bicultural and multicultural face of the Church here, and made me feel proud to be a New Zealander.
The three visiting conferences of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific, were given a formal powhiri as they were called into the Sacred Heart Cathedral for the “standing room only” opening Mass.
The bishops later commented on how deeply touched they were by the solemnity and warmth of this welcome, during which deceased bishops were also acknowledged and honoured.

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