Charismatic Catholic Renewal in Bougainville

revisiting the power of Marian devotion as a cultural and socio-political force

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This article explores the interplay between culture and Christianity by detailing the history, experience, and impact of the Charismatic Catholic Renewal in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 1985, the PNG Catholic Bishops' Conference approved the charismatic movement as one of the authentic movements for spiritual renewal of the Catholic Church in PNG. However, the conference stressed this renewal not to be made independent or outside of the Church. In this article I discuss how in Bougainville the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has been predominantly operating ‘outside’ the institutional Catholic Church, drawing upon both Catholic and cultural logics to mobilise devotees across Bougainville towards renewal and political change. In particular, I will focus on various local Marian movements, elucidating the power and force of the CCR in contexts of Bougainville's civil war (1988–1998). In doing so, this paper will explore what Catholicism and CCR may contribute to discussions about the positioning of culture within Christianity, at the same time showing how charismatic Marian devotion invites reassessment of recent prevailing discussions on cultural ‘continuity’ versus ‘rupture’, as well as doctrinal boundaries held so dearly by the CCR and the Roman Catholic Church in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-169
Number of pages18
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Catholic Charismatic Renewal
  • Holy War
  • Bougainville confict
  • Bougainville
  • social change

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