By ELIZABETH VUVU
THE family of Cardinal Sir John Ribat reconciled with their father’s relatives on Thursday after 43 years of differences.
The reconciliation ceremony – in the traditional Tolai custom – was witnessed by Cardinal Ribat, Archbishop of Rabaul Francesco Panfilo, Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat, relatives of the cardinal and people of Balanataman local level government at Volavolo village, Rabaul.
Cardinal Ribat has four brothers and four sisters.
One of his brothers, Michael Kava, said the family had long-running differences with their father’s relatives since 1973.
He said the feud started from the burial of their father in in 1973. His body was to be buried at Watom Island but sudden change of plans by his relatives saw him being taken to Tavui 2 and buried at Pikalaba clan cemetery.
This had not gone down well with the late Ribat’s children and only his wife attended his funeral that time.
“We thought that now is the right time to put our difference aside and when Cardinal Ribat makes his rare visit home, we will ensure he is invited to witness the reconciliation between the clan members and our family,” Kava said.
“For us, it was a long coming wait for this reconciliation, it was not easy, so we decided that we must work on it and after so many sleepless nights, today we are witnessing that we want to be together as a family and as a clan.
“We are convinced that through this traditional way of reconciliation, we believe it will last and that we are giving our hearts back to each other and that should not be betrayed.”
The sisters in the family and women in the father’s clan wept openly, saying sorry as they shook hands and exchanged Tolai shell money.
Cardinal Ribat’s niece Cecelia Tapil apologised on behalf of their families and clan for what they had done to the body of the late Ribat 43 years ago which left a scar in the hearts of Cardinal Ribat and his siblings.
Marat said it was a touching experience to witness the family and relatives reconcile with each other.
He said for 43 years, they had differences and reconciliation was a powerful means of reuniting people with differences.
Cardinal Ribat thanked his siblings and father’s relatives, saying what they have done was in the true spirit of reconciliation and it was really touching.
By ELIZABETH VUVU