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The Diocese of Bougainville comprises the whole of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The first missionaries landed on the southern tip of the island in Buin in 1901 and Bougainville became a Prefecture Apostolic in 1904, a Vicariate in 1930 and finally a Diocese in 1966. The Catholic Church is the biggest church in Bougainville.
Besides the pastoral work, the Diocese is one of the main providers of social services in Bougainville. These services are offered to everybody, regardless of denomination. The Diocese co-operates closely with the Autonomous Bougainville Government and other church agencies, especially in the education and health sectors.
Between 1989 and 1997, Bougainville suffered from a civil war that cost the lives of at least 10% of the population. This conflict was caused by the operation of a large copper mine and by the wish of many Bougainvilleans to be independent from the rest of Papua New Guinea.
In the beginning of the crisis, the entire administration and most public institutions had to be closed. Medical and other public services collapsed and in the course of the war almost the entire infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, including those of the churches. The Catholic Diocese of Bougainville lost most of its infrastructure, much of its human resources and almost all sources of income.
Since a cease-fire was signed in April 1998, peace returned gradually to the region and in 1999, Bishop Henk Kronenberg enwas ordained to re-establish the diocesan administration from scratch. To date, after a decade of restoration, the Diocese has reinstated many services.
Under the leadership of Bishop Bernard Unabali, who succeeded Bishop Henk Kronenberg in 2010, the Diocese tries now to identify ways to sustain and improve these services further.
The Diocese is divided into six deaneries and 31 parishes. Parishes are divided into Christian Communities, which again are formed by the smallest unit in the Diocesan structure, the Basic Christian Communities or Liklik Kristen Komuniti (LKK) in Tok Pisin.