Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 25, 2006
Australian bishops back Aborigines
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Catholic Church needs to continue to promote the welfare of and dialogue with indigenous peoples, say Australia's bishops.
"We as Church need to continue to work with indigenous people to provide encouragement, support and resources to keep strong those elements of culture and history that they wish to preserve," the bishops said in a Sept. 14 statement.
The document was released on the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's address in Alice Springs to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands in northeast Australia, and are regarded as distinct from other Aboriginal peoples in Australia.
The bishops identified four issues raised by Pope John Paul:
- Preservation of indigenous cultures;
- Establishment of agreement between those traditions and the Church and society;
- Development of land management practices that preserve the environment;
- Identifying "past hurts and continuing injustices" and moving toward "true reconciliation."
The bishops said Christianity can learn much from these cultures about "respect for the whole of creation."
"The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples knew what the ancestors of Jesus knew: you can't continue to exploit the land and the sea if you want them to be fruitful for the next generation. God has given the land as a sacred trust; it demands respect and care."
The bishops noted indigenous people face unemployment rates at least three times that of non-indigenous Australians and "lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher hospitalization for preventable diseases, lower infant birth weights, alarming rates of death from diabetes and kidney disease."
The bishops said that the "remedies are well within our economic reach."
(© Catholic Online 2006, www.catholic.org)