Walking the Talk Together
(NRW) and the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation are held every year between 27 May and 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision. The theme for 2014 –Let’s Walk the Talk – offers us a chance to reflect on the journey towards Constitutional recognition for the First Peoples of Australia, and acknowledges the deep connection between recognition in the founding document of this nation and reconciliation.
Reconciliation is based on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of our country taking ownership of an often painful shared history. Truth-telling is a difficult process, but coming to terms with the wrongs that have been perpetrated against First Peoples – often by Churches themselves – is an important part of the healing process for all of us. Reconciliation also requires commitment and action from both communities and from our Government. In the light of the recent budget and the impact on aboriginal people of the major cuts in funding, we need to continue to be informed and also to take action by writing to politicians, particularly our local members. Through his words and deeds, Christ calls us to actively work for reconciliation with our brothers and sisters and to address the inequalities faced by too many in our society.
Aboriginal people today bear the scars of empire and colonisation: the gap in health and wellbeing indicators between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is a stark reminder of the systemic inequities in our country. Aboriginal communities, both remote and urban, experience heightened levels of disadvantage across a range of socio-economic indicators, from education and employment to disproportionate suicide and incarceration rates.
Nearly 30 years ago, Pope John Paul II called on the First Peoples of this nation to share their gifts with the Church: “The Church in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have you’re your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.”
What steps have we taken to be receptive to the contributions of Aboriginal people within our Church and community? How have we allowed the offerings of First Peoples to strengthen our mission? For us, supporting the movement for Constitutional recognition is vitally important, but it must be accompanied by a commitment from all of us to truly Walk the Talk alongside our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in Christ.
Messages to: Marg Endicott rsm