Time to end sorcery, issues relating to it


I AGREE with Christopher W Taweg’s opinion in The National on Friday when he outlined two approaches to sorcery in order to eradicate it.
Assuming that sorcery is real, as he states, due to the fact that people train for it, believe it and practice it, it should also be held that it is evil and negative for individuals and communities.
Harmful and deadly practices should be prohibited and prosecuted.
The same should be for any accusation of sorcery, either grounded on some evidence or totally baseless, as most of the times it appears to be.
It is disturbing to hear that torturing of women is something recent and unknown, even in colonial time.
Papua New Guinea has for too long condoned sorcery and accusations of sorcery.
The benevolent Sorcery Act of 1973 was probably a major mistake in the leading up to Independence.
It may have allowed the phenomenon to be perceived as part of the noble traditions the constitutional preamble acknowledges.
But from no point of view can sorcery practices be seen as noble.
They have never been.
Anytime and anywhere.
People have already fought sorcery and witchcraft in Europe – till stamping it out just three hundred years ago – adding injustice to evil by targeting innocent people, mostly women and summarily prosecuting and executing them.
The traditional reaction to sorcery in old Europe and current PNG appears to be largely irrational, based on suspicion and fear, retaliation and pay-back, opportunism, lies and business.
The legislation is poor, insufficient, practically inexistent for an issue that is complex. It involves murder but is more than common criminal behaviour.
According to Taweg, “the churches have failed to help people repent from sin and do away with witchcraft, sorcery and other evil ways”.
The churches have actually saved many lives in recent times, but eradicating sorcery is a mammoth task.
A genuine Christian spirituality effectively turns minds and hearts to good, but personal openness to it is a prerequisite. Children should also be brought up and educated to stay away from sorcery practices and beliefs, not to stigmatise and point fingers at members of the community, not to witness horrible rituals of torture and burning of people at stake as it is now common in the Highlands.
Then, it will be for the next government and parliament to show what the State can do, by undertaking an unprecedent action of legislation, policing, jurisprudence, awareness and education to counteract such a horrific and murderous system.

Fr Giorgio Licini,
Catholic Bishops Conference