New call to engage with Indigenous
Australia’s Catholic bishops have called for “a new engagement” with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The call was made in their annual Social Justice Statement launched before Social Justice Sunday on August 27.
This year’s theme is Listen, Learn, Love: A New Engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
“One of the objectives of this statement is that we want Catholics to understand that Catholic social teaching and Catholic social action are not simply theoretical and academic exercises,” said Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.
“We hear what God is saying to us about justice by being with our sisters and brothers on the peripheries of society.
“Listening is hard. Hearing about young people taking their lives, about so many people ending up in jail, of children still being taken away from their parents and grandparents and about the ongoing racism is tough.
“It must be so much more difficult for these people to tell us about their painful experiences. We are deeply grateful to those who shared their stories of pain with us. Strengthening our relationship with our First Peoples is integral and indeed critical to the strengthening of the whole nation,” Bishop Long added.
The statement can be viewed at: socialjustice.catholic.org.au/
The Social Justice Sunday initiative encourages people to show compassion. The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council was created in 1987 by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), as the Church’s national justice, peace, and human rights institution. It teaches that families are the foundation of society and should be supported. And upholding family values, such as love, respect for one another and mutual support are central to these teachings.
Each year Social Justice Sunday is held on the last Sunday of August which is in line with the Church’s belief that all people should be treated fairly regardless of gender, race, colour, ethnicity, age, marital or parental status, sexual preference, disability or religious belief.
The Church recognises that the family is a fundamental unit within our communities which must be protected at all costs. The catechism states, “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state” so it’s important we ensure everyone has access to basic needs such as food, shelter and healthcare.
For example, supporting single parents or couples struggling financially due to unemployment or illness; helping refugees and asylum seekers and advocating against domestic violence.
Catholics have an obligation towards others – especially the vulnerable like the elderly and the young – to work together to create just societies where every member can flourish regardless of their background or circumstances.
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