01/05/2015, 00.00
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
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Bishop Bonivento's service to the country recognised with national award

PIME missionary priest worked in Milne Bay and Sandaun provinces for over 30 years. Appointed bishop of Vanimo in 1991, Mgr Bonivento focused his pastoral activity on training the local clergy. He also criticised government AIDS policy.

Port Moresby (AsiaNews) - Bishop Cesare Bonivento, DD, PIME, was awarded the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL), a recognition granted to no more than 50 living persons, for his services to the nation and the Catholic Church.

The honour confers him the titled of 'Chief' in acknowledgement for his contribution to the life of the nation over the past two decades.

More specifically, in Mgr Bonivento's case, it refers to the PIME missionary's service as a priest to the people of Milne Bay and Sandaun provinces for more than 30 years.

As part of his pastoral work, the prelate has always stressed the importance of training the local clergy. As part of this, he was instrumental in endowing his diocese with a minor and a major seminary.

However, Bishop Cesare Bonivento has spoken out critically on some developmental issues in Papua New Guinea.

One was the decision by the PNG Education Department to implement a new HIV/AIDS policy that included providing condoms to fight a high rate of infection among students.

As the secretary for Education of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands, Bishop Cesare Bonivento slammed the move, saying the new requirement contradicted Catholic teaching on sexuality, noting that the Church would not obey it.

In his view, the use of condoms is like "a gun that instead of killing the enemy, very often exploded in the hands of the one who wanted to use it for personal defence".

In fact, he said that the condom was not protection but a killer.

The 74-year-old Mgr Bonivento Caesar was born in Chioggia, Italy, 30 September 1949.

Ordained as a priest in 1965, he has faithfully served the Catholic Church for almost 50 years, 33 of which in Papua New Guinea.

He has been bishop of Vanimo Diocese since 21 December 1991.

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