A week we can all celebrate
This year’s theme is Get up! Stand up! Show up! and encourages all of us to ‘champion institutional, structural, collaborative, and cooperative change while celebrating those who have already driven and led change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over generations.’
NAIDOC Week coincides with the recent presentation to Pope Francis of a copy of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Director of Gweagal Cultural Connections and lecturer in Aboriginal spirituality at Australian Catholic University, Theresa Ardler, said she met Pope Francis by chance while in Rome to deliver a presentation at ACU’s Rome campus as part of Laudato Si’ Week. After hearing Dr Ardler’s presentation, Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro invited her to meet the pope.
Also at the meeting with the pope was ACU’s Dean of Theology and Philosophy, Professor Dermot Nestor and ACU’s Jacqui Remond.
The federal government has committed itself to the Uluru Statement, which includes a pledge to establish a First Nations Voice to Federal Parliament, to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
The statement, which was signed in 2017 by 250 Indigenous representatives at a National Convention, also calls for the setting up of a dedicated commission to supervise the process of determining a treaty in Australia between governments and First Nations people.
As a proud Gweagal woman, Ms Ardler said it was a deeply personal moment that she will never forget. She believes the Catholic Church has a crucial role to play in reaching those in the community in greatest need. Aware of the pope’s special concern for Indigenous peoples, Ms Ardler gave Pope Francis a Franciscan Cross she had painted in Aboriginal style.
Gweagal Cultural Connections is a business that educates school and university communities about the richness of Aboriginal culture and spirituality.
NAIDOC Week continues until July 10. Further details from: www.naidoc.org.au/
Image caption: Theresa Ardler is greeted by Pope Francis with Jacqui Remond (back left) and Chiara Porro looking on.
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