Church in PNG fears tensions after its land illegally occupied

4:09 pm on 20 December 2017

The Catholic church in Papua New Guinea is angry a logging company has encroached onto its land.

The coastal land at Put Put in East New Britain is the site of a mission and seminary.

Harvested logs in PNG

Harvested logs in PNG Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The Archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo, said in recent weeks a Malaysian company has bulldozed up to seven hectares of the church's land, seemingly to build a camp and to make use of the jetty there.

He said the church has been asking the courts since last week to issue a restraining order on the development.

Archbishop Panfilo said he thinks the company has blithely moved in without seeking any approval because it is church land.

"And they think that because it is church land, it is land for everybody, that the church is meant to be charitable to everybody. We are charitable to everybody. What is the real problem now is that this is creating tension and I am afraid that it could spill over, if the courts do not give a restraining order immediately," said Archbishop Francesco Panfilo.

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