BISHOP Rochus Tatamai of Bereina has said the forgiving attitude shown after the 1902 murder of St Maria Goretti challenges Papua New Guinean payback practice and mentality.
He was speaking at a meeting of Catholic youth at Divine Word University in Madang at the weekend.
Bishop Rochus said the way the murder of the 12-year-old Italian came about reflects very much current PNG social issues and problems.
Maria Goretti lived in poverty, was illiterate but very religious, and suffered violence and death as a child by a person she knew very well as a family friend.
In 2006, after a wide consultation, Maria Goretti was selected as patroness of Catholic youth of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to uphold the rights and dignity of the girl child.
Bishop Rochus also said the saints challenge common social practices which are at odds with Christian values.
He highlighted the case of Blessed Peter ToRot (1912 – 45), a Tolai catechist killed by Japanese occupation forces because he continued to lead prayer meetings and administer the sacraments of baptism and marriage when the Japanese prohibited all religious activities.
Peter ToRot had also openly opposed polygamy and sexual licentiousness. After being detained by Japanese forces near the end of the war he was incarcerated and killed by lethal injection.
“We need models for today’s PNG and here they are,” Bishop Rochus said.
“St Maria Goretti and our own Papua New Guinean, Peter ToRot.
“He was called ToRot because he was born close the new big road (rot in Tok Pisin) built in East New Britain at the outset of colonisation.
“He shows us the way to overcome the current national crisis through the same care for the children and the family, honesty, dedication and courage.”