Statue of St Mary burnt in Papua New Guinea

A YOUTH, allegedly intoxicated with homebrew beer and marijuana, burnt a statue of St Mary near a Catholic church last Friday night in Chimbu province, Papua New Guinea, PNGs Post COurier reports.

The infamous incident, described as by the local parish priest as "a slap to the Catholic church" took place at Monguma village, 5kms on the northwestern hills of Kundiawa.

The Lutheran youth reportedly crept to the churchyard under the cover of darkness and forcibly removed the metre-long statue of St Mary from a grotto and burnt it to ashes with firewood and kerosene.

After setting the statue ablaze the youth went into hiding in the mountains.

The incident has shocked the 500 or so Catholic faithfuls in the village.

Rector of the Kundiawa Catholic parish Fr Simon Kewende said the destruction of the statue was "a slap to the Catholic Church" and has appealed to the youth to return home from his hiding and buy a replacement for the St Michael's Catholic church in Monguma.

Attempts to get comments from the bishop of the Kundiawa diocese Rev Anton Bal were in vain.

Church workers in the area said it was the first time such incident has occurred.

Catholic youths in Monguma are in pursuit of the "careless youth."
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