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Sorcery and Witchcraft: A Critical Challenge in Papua New Guinea

ARC Admin
2024-06-11 07:58 UTC+7 69

RELIGION AND SOCIAL COMMUNICATION VOLUME 22, NO. 2 (2024)

ISSN 1686-9184

Author

Tuan Viet Cao, CM

Abstract

In the modern age of the twenty-first century, with rapid developments in technology and science, accusations of sorcery and witchcraft appear to be occurring with increasing and spreading regularity throughout Papua New Guinea (PNG), a country in the South Pacific, a strange neighbor of Asia. With ninety-seven percent of the population identified as Christian, issues associated with sorcery and witchcraft remain pervasive and severe. These concerns have heightened the apprehension of the government, international organizations, institutes, and Christian Churches, viewing them as among the most critical challenges to the country’s peace and development. Based on various materials, research, and conferences on Melanesian culture, particularly on sorcery and witchcraft in PNG, and with experience of living in PNG as a Catholic missionary priest, the author relates to non-Melanesian readers the phenomena of sorcery and witchcraft in PNG with the reasons and the horrific consequences to the individuals, families, and communities. The author also delineates specific attitudes, strategies, and actions implemented by the government, organizations, and churches, grounded in Christian values, human rights, ethics, science, and biomedicine. These initiatives aim to persuade individuals to embrace scientific and verifiable explanations for death, sick-ness, and misfortunes, discouraging attributions to sor-cery and witchcraft. As with other societal challen-ges, the author underscores that the optimal strategy for addressing sorcery-related issues involves ensuring access to healthcare services, strengthening judicial enforcement, promoting education, providing religious education, and fostering economic development.

Keywords

culture, sorcery, witchcraft, Christianity, development

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Pages 416-443

DOI: https://doi.org/10.62461/TVC040324

Submitted: December 22, 2023; Accepted: April 3, 2024; Published: June 30, 2024

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