Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Pope Visits Papua New Guinea 7.5.1984

Pope John Paul II received a joyous and informal welcome in Port Moresby on 7.5.1984 as he arrived from South Korea on the second leg of his Far Eastern tour.

After the military formality and precision of his four-day South Korean stay, the Pope responded with delighted warmth to the relaxed and spontaneous airport reception and the cheers that accompanied him as his open vehicle made its way through town to Hubert Murray Stadium, a rugby field where he celebrated a floodlighted evening mass.

At the airport, where he was welcomed with a 21-gun salute, each round was greeted by the welcoming crowd with squeals of delight. A strong wind blew the smoke from each round back on the papal party and the welcomers led by the Governor General, Sir Kingsford Dibela, and Prime Minister Michael Somare, causing much laughter.

The onlookers were surprised, then responded with laughter and applause when the Pope in his arrival remarks switched from English to Motu and then to pidgin, the two principal vernaculars. Blessing for the Island

Calling for God's blessings on Papua New Guinea, the Pope said:
''May His peace descend on your beautiful islands, your great rivers, high mountains and deep valleys. May it descend on your volcanoes and fill your blue seas.''
The Pope also used all three languages in sections of the mass, which was marked by indigenous music and fervent singing.

After the mass, the Pope delighted the lingering crowd of 20,000 by praising the three million people of Papua New Guinea as ''a very, very lovely people.'' His remarks touched off cheers and thumping of traditional kundu drums.

Indigenous dance groups performed for the Pope as he arrived and at the mass. Slowly, John Paul walked along the rows of male drummers in feathered headgear, their faces painted in glowing colored patterns, and grass- skirted female dancers. Whenever the Pope or another speaker drew applause, the drummers drummed and the dancers clapped, swaying their hips.

In sharp contrast to South Korea, where admittance to most of the events on the papal schedule required surrender of identity cards, all who came were welcome both at the airport and at mass. Many carried drums and other instruments; in South Korea people had to come empty-handed for most occasions. Formal and Informal Purposes.

The formal purpose of the visit was to mark the centennial of the arrival of the first missionaries. The Constitution describes Papua New Guinea, a land where tribal warfare has never quite ceased, as a Christian country.
But the formal occasion for the visit did not appear to be what mattered to the people who came to greet the Pontiff. They saw it happily as a form of international recognition of their independence.

''It is very historic,'' Simon Frigia, an aide to the Prime Minister, said. ''A Pope has never landed in this land.''

Thank you Merja for this memorable FDC.

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