Friday, July 01, 2011
Just how important is NAIDOC for the Australian Catholic Church?
NAIDOC Week began today Sunday July 3 with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council produces resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Sunday. These are quite accessible and could be used for anyone wanting to explore issues of faith and inculturation during and beyond this significant week..
This year the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference published a statement promoting friendship as a way into solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Finding the statement on their web site is not helped by the way it is labelled and hidden among a series of documents under a Commission tab. In fact I have to wonder if the Bishops are really serious about this statement as they don't even mention it on their Facebook page for the 1.043 people who like them!!!!
A quick visit to the official calendars of the major sees in Australia does not indicate any great commitment to the sentiments of this new document. The only Archdiocesan calendars or events pages which mention Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday or NAIDOC are Canberra, Hobart and Perth.
In Brisbane we gathered for a NAIDOC Mass at the Cathedral however it did not a rate mention on the official Calendar of the Archdiocese. Perhaps they have other priorities which they seem to share with Sydney and Melbourne which also do not list a NAIDOC Mass as a significant event for their local churches.
The words of Pope John Paul II to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in 1986 continue to haunt the Australian Church
You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.
During this week you may like to take some time out for a re-reading of the 2003 Social Justice Statement "A Generous Heart in the Love of Christ Challenging Racism in Australia Today" as well as the new statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops released for the 2011 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday.