Shorter Catechism in the Works for Papua New Guinea

Would Be Basis for Future Volumes in English and Pidgin

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VANIMO, Papua New Guinea, APRIL 6, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- This South Pacific island nation may soon have a shorter, inculturated version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in English.

The new version will serve as a basis for preparing future catechisms in English and pidgin English for various age groups.

At his fellow bishops’ urging, Bishop Francesco Sarego of Goroka has put together a draft work, with the help of local priests.

The text is expected to be approved at the next assembly of the bishops’ conference and then sent to the Holy See for confirmation.

Although the Church in this nation of 5.1 million already has three texts for religious instruction in schools, it does not have a catechism in pidgin English for the Christian initiation of children and post-confirmation instruction for adults.

Children who attend catechism classes have only a book of questions and answers. Last Christmas the Pauline Press published a pidgin English version of all the questions and answers in every chapter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Father Saverio Taffari, an Italian missionary who is head of the Vanimo Diocese’s Center for Catechism and Pastoral Care, described to the Fides missionary agency the situation in which he operates.

«At present, there is only one priest working at the National Center for Liturgy and Catechism in Goroka, which should be a active center for producing handbooks for catechesis and liturgical formation,» he said.

«Moreover, there is only one Bible expert working to produce a Catholic version of the Gospels in pidgin,» the priest added. «The Church in PNG has no Catholic Bible in pidgin. For years it has used the Protestant version, with serious gaps in translation and also mistakes in exegesis and doctrine.

«We need expert Bible scholars and catechists who might come from missionary congregations and institutes. Also, some of the best local priests and religious could be sent to perfect their studies abroad for this purpose.»

Father Taffari added: «We hope that a project — sponsored by the bishops’ conference through its delegate Bishop Cesare Bonivento — for a national Catholic radio connected with diocesan Catholic radios will soon become a reality.»

The nation, which comprises a number of islands, is about the size of California.

«The national Catholic radio will help to spread the light of the Gospel and the voice of the Church all over Papua New Guinea, to the remotest villages and the great forests where missionaries find it hard to make even regular monthly visits,» Father Taffari said. «The radio should have started working last Christmas but it was slowed down by technical problems and red tape.»

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