ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS flew into Port Moresby on Saturday for a five-day visit to Papua New Guinea on his way to the ACC meeting in New Zealand.
Welcoming the Archbishop, PNG’s Acting Prime Minister, Leo Dion, praised the health and education services the Anglican Church was providing in his country. He said that the Church of England was one of the first organisations to offer help after the volcanic eruption in Rabaul and praised the ‘exceptional way’ the Anglican Church in PNG gave spiritual care to its people.
On Sunday the Archbishop presided at a well-attended Eucharist in Popondetta Cathedral before blessing a new hospital at Oro Bay and presiding at the ground-breaking ceremony for a new teachers’ college.
On Monday he travelled in a helicopter provided by the Government to visit the Cathedral at Dogura, close by the place where the Anglican mission in PNG began in 1891.
On his return to Port Moresby the Archbishop met with members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for PNG and attended a Government Reception. He also held a private meeting with victims of domestic violence and visited Anglicare, which has extensive works with people suffering from AIDS.
The Bishop of Port Moresby, the Rt Rev Peter Ramsden, said the visit had ‘given the Archbishop the chance to meet with Anglicans in three of PNG’s five dioceses; emphasised the Anglican Church’s work in health and education; highlighted the challenges of gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS; encouraged ecumenical links; and allowed the Archbishop to engage with the PNG government on development issues’.
This is the second visit to PNG by an Archbishop of Canterbury. The first was by Archbishop George Carey at the time the Church was celebrating its centenary in 1991. PNG has a population of 7.1million and Anglicans comprise five per cent of the population.