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« From the Kundiawa News – 50 years ago today | Main | Crocodile Prize: The wheels that drive the COG – Phil Fitzpatrick »

22 May 2014

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Well said, Dr Paulus. I was pleased to hear the Catholic Bishops speaking out but once they got onto the birth control issue I thought "here comes trouble".

I am glad to hear the thoughts of a PNG Catholic doctor who is working in the family planning world to try to solve the looming population crisis in PNG, but who also understands that there are other important moral issues facing the nation which must be tackled by the Christian church.

It is really disappointing to see the bishops come out with this retrograde pronunciation against family planning. They seem to rail against what they call “forced sterilisation” and decrease in fertility.

As a Catholic doctor I find it greatly disappointing as there is a real need to take a middle road with ready access to family planning methods by parents who need to plan their families properly.

They only seem to focus on family planning methods as methods that encourage sex among unmarried or among those who are not married to each other.

Even in the latter group it seems to be a better evil than allowing to pregnancies to proceed to abortion; which because they are illegal can and have been life threatening when performed in less than optimal circumstances.

It is also disappointing to see the bishops being dismissive of population growth and wonder if they actually live in the real world or up in the clouds somewhere.

The National Health department promotes family planning firstly because of health reasons in mothers who are in danger of dying because they have too many children too close together.

This is well known and the knowledge is in the public domain so much that there is no excuse for the bishops to be ignorant about them.

Secondly, having too many children too close together puts so much strain on parents that upbringing of children becomes problematic not only financially (schools, clothing , food etc) but in the quality of their upbringing.

Children in their formative years need adequate attention to their learning and acquisition of social, ethical, cognitive, literacy and numeracy skills which in order to develop into productive adults with well balanced social skills. This can only be done with proper attention to spacing and numbers of children in the family.

Thirdly, at a national level population explosion is a huge problem as at 3% growth we will double the population in less than 2 decades.

Whilst the total population in itself is not that great a problem it is the make-up, the fact that half the population will be less than 15 years old and dependent on a much smaller productive fraction. And will we be able to provide double the services (schools, aidposts, hospitals etc) in the next decade when already most of the rural areas are under-served?

As to their stands on the death penalty and the refugee issue those must be commended. However it is disappointing again to see the bishops taking up peripheral issues when the main moral issues facing the nation driven by an oligarchy of political leaders and wealthy families (both national and foreign) are being avoided. Bishop Ribat has alluded to some of them but has been rather timid about them.

When will we have PNG bishops who will have the courage to speak up? When will we have our own Helder Camarras or Oscar Romeros who can speak out for the majority of the marginalised people of this country particularly when there is no effective political opposition, a frightened and silent bureaucracy and a lost and dispirited population?

When will church leaders stop accepting government donations (except for provision of health services and schools) which leads to a conflict of interest?

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