Australian Catholics seek support for Aboriginal people

By staff writers
May 24, 2006

Australian Catholics seek support for Aboriginal people

-24/05/06

The Roman Catholic Church in Australia is raising its voice in support of Aboriginal Australians, reports CathNews. The Archdiocese of Adelaide has issued a call to faith groups to do more to help indigenous communities affected by abuse and violence.

A Church spokesperson said: "The attempts we make as a community and churches to address these problems are simply not enough."

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He declared that it was necessary to intensify programmes of social, medical assistance, education and rehabilitation as the situation had deteriorated so badly. "It is a question not only of charity but also social justice" he said.

After recent reports of sexual abuse and violence on Aboriginal communities, Caritas, the Catholic aid organisation, has called for more attention to the question of integration in Australian society. The agency recalled that in the past 200 years the Aboriginal people have endured tremendous suffering.

According to Caritas, policies for the forcible removal of land and many thousands of children from their families as well as laws forcing segregation denying access to social welfare and fundamental human rights, have all impacted on their quality of life.

Recently, the reorganisation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Australia included 12 commissions one of which will deal with Relations with Aboriginal communities.

Every year the Church organises National Reconciliation Week - a series of initiatives and events on the subject of reconciliation of European and Aboriginal communities. It recalls that "over 1,100 Aboriginal babies born prematurely or underweight, are destined to a life of health problems."

Basic healthcare and education are, says the Bishops' Commission, concrete expression of 'reconciliation'.

Aboriginal people are about 2.4 per cent of the Australian population, but 16 per cent of those detained in prisons. They were almost exterminated in the 19th century in a series of local wars over fertile land which indigenous people used for hunting and the European settlers made into fields and pasture land.

In the 20th century Australia's policies towards Aboriginal people did not improve quickly. Up until 40 years ago Aboriginal children were taken from their parents to be raised by white families. It was only in 1967 that the Aboriginal people were recognised as full Australian citizens with all civil and political rights ñ including the possibility of voting.

At least 100,000 children were taken from their parents between 1930 and 1970, causing serious trauma individual and social.

Today in Australia there are about 460,000 Aboriginal people. Most live below the poverty line and in situations of widespread unemployment and abuse of alcohol.

Last week Pope Benedict urged the Australian Government to seek forgiveness from Indigenous Australians and address the "deep underlying causes" of their plight.

The Age newspaper reported that the Pope told the new Australian ambassador to the Vatican, Anne Maree Plunkett, that Aborigines' predicament caused much pain.

The pontiff said: "I encourage you and the Government to continue to address with compassion and determination the deep underlying causes of their plight."

He added: "Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness - two indispensable elements for peace."

The Prime Minister has consistently refused to apologise to indigenous people and has criticised "the black armband view of history". He has also advocated the idea of "practical" over "symbolic" reconciliation, saying that the health and welfare of Aborigines are more important than an apology.

Aboriginal leaders say that both are needed. The Uniting Church, Anglicans, other Christian traditions and ecumenical bodies have backed calls for change.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches leader expresses dismay at Aboriginal situation; Australian Christians focus on reconciliation between white and black; Gospel requires justice not charity, says Jesuit writer; Christians wanted for conflict situations; Jim Wallis warns against religious right in Australia; Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christians; Australian churches line up to oppose uranium mining; In the beginning was the text message (Australian Bible Society); Calling for Christian non-conformity - An Australian look at discipleship amid deception, violence and fear]

Australian Catholics seek support for Aboriginal people

-24/05/06

The Roman Catholic Church in Australia is raising its voice in support of Aboriginal Australians, reports CathNews. The Archdiocese of Adelaide has issued a call to faith groups to do more to help indigenous communities affected by abuse and violence.

A Church spokesperson said: "The attempts we make as a community and churches to address these problems are simply not enough."

Related Articles

He declared that it was necessary to intensify programmes of social, medical assistance, education and rehabilitation as the situation had deteriorated so badly. "It is a question not only of charity but also social justice" he said.

After recent reports of sexual abuse and violence on Aboriginal communities, Caritas, the Catholic aid organisation, has called for more attention to the question of integration in Australian society. The agency recalled that in the past 200 years the Aboriginal people have endured tremendous suffering.

According to Caritas, policies for the forcible removal of land and many thousands of children from their families as well as laws forcing segregation denying access to social welfare and fundamental human rights, have all impacted on their quality of life.

Recently, the reorganisation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Australia included 12 commissions one of which will deal with Relations with Aboriginal communities.

Every year the Church organises National Reconciliation Week - a series of initiatives and events on the subject of reconciliation of European and Aboriginal communities. It recalls that "over 1,100 Aboriginal babies born prematurely or underweight, are destined to a life of health problems."

Basic healthcare and education are, says the Bishops' Commission, concrete expression of 'reconciliation'.

Aboriginal people are about 2.4 per cent of the Australian population, but 16 per cent of those detained in prisons. They were almost exterminated in the 19th century in a series of local wars over fertile land which indigenous people used for hunting and the European settlers made into fields and pasture land.

In the 20th century Australia's policies towards Aboriginal people did not improve quickly. Up until 40 years ago Aboriginal children were taken from their parents to be raised by white families. It was only in 1967 that the Aboriginal people were recognised as full Australian citizens with all civil and political rights ñ including the possibility of voting.

At least 100,000 children were taken from their parents between 1930 and 1970, causing serious trauma individual and social.

Today in Australia there are about 460,000 Aboriginal people. Most live below the poverty line and in situations of widespread unemployment and abuse of alcohol.

Last week Pope Benedict urged the Australian Government to seek forgiveness from Indigenous Australians and address the "deep underlying causes" of their plight.

The Age newspaper reported that the Pope told the new Australian ambassador to the Vatican, Anne Maree Plunkett, that Aborigines' predicament caused much pain.

The pontiff said: "I encourage you and the Government to continue to address with compassion and determination the deep underlying causes of their plight."

He added: "Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness - two indispensable elements for peace."

The Prime Minister has consistently refused to apologise to indigenous people and has criticised "the black armband view of history". He has also advocated the idea of "practical" over "symbolic" reconciliation, saying that the health and welfare of Aborigines are more important than an apology.

Aboriginal leaders say that both are needed. The Uniting Church, Anglicans, other Christian traditions and ecumenical bodies have backed calls for change.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches leader expresses dismay at Aboriginal situation; Australian Christians focus on reconciliation between white and black; Gospel requires justice not charity, says Jesuit writer; Christians wanted for conflict situations; Jim Wallis warns against religious right in Australia; Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christians; Australian churches line up to oppose uranium mining; In the beginning was the text message (Australian Bible Society); Calling for Christian non-conformity - An Australian look at discipleship amid deception, violence and fear]

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