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Prime Minister O’Neill Invites Pope Francis to Visit Papua New Guinea

The Prime Minister. Peter O’Neill   has extended an invitation for His Holiness, Pope Francis, to visit Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister O’Neill made the invitation during a meeting today with Sir John Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby who is soon to be elevated as Papua New Guinea’s first Cardinal, and Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, the new Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

"The Apostolic Nuncio extended the greetings from His Holiness, Pope Francis, to the people of our nation,” the Prime Minister said.
"I asked the Apostolic Nuncio to pass on our thanks to the Holy Father for elevating one of our Sons to such an important position in the Catholic Church.
“This is an honor for our people and we are proud of our first Cardinal.
“Following Cardinal Ribat’s elevation I hope now that we will be able to receive Pope Francis in Papua New Guinea.
“Pope John Paul II visited Papua New Guinea on two occasions and people of all Christian denominations in our country would like to welcome His Holiness, Pope Francis.
“A Papal visit brings people together, and unites them through commitment to God and Church, regardless of which denomination the are from.
“We will continue a dialogue with representatives of the Vatican to formalise this offer for the Pope to visit.”
The Prime Minister also invited to incoming Cardinal and Archbishop to deepen the work of the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea.
“We want to be a strong partner with our church because our priorities are the same.
“Together we will continue to invest money and time in our core policy areas of healthcare and education.
“These areas underpin the social structure of our nation and we must continue to strengthen our communities.
“For many decades the Government did not do much in rural and remote areas, and it was the church that stepped in to help our people.
“I know this was the case in my own district in Pangia when I was growing up, there was no Government support and this continued many years after Independence.
“Over the past five years the Government has been strengthening our work with the churches in these areas and this is delivering benefits to our people.
“We thank the Catholic Church, and other Churches, for the partnerships that we have built and I know they will only get stronger.”
Archbishop Vayalumkal recently arrived in Papua New Guinea to begin his appointment. He has been with the Diplomatic Corps of Vatican since 1998 and worked in Hungary, Korea, Dominican Republic, Egypt and Bangladesh in his diplomatic capacity.
He also served in Haiti after a large earthquake in 2010 to oversee the humanitarian work taken up by the Vatican.

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