Media release issued May 24, 2007
Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) the peak body for more than 8500 men and women Religious across Australia, also warns that unless Australia unites in efforts of reconciliation, "a poverty of spirit will afflict our entire nation".
"Catholic Religious Australia gives thanks for the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures, the resilience of Indigenous Australians, and the unique place that they hold within the Australian nation. Today the whole nation is enriched by the artistic, literary, sporting and intellectual contributions of Indigenous Australians ...
"During the last 40 years, we Religious sisters, brothers and priests, like so many other Australians, have come to a deeper understanding of the history of our nation; the need to recognise the original owners and custodians of these lands and waters; to make a just and proper settlement; and to address the injustices of the past and the present.
"We wish to learn from the spirituality of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who encountered God in this land thousands of years before Abraham set out for the Promised Land."
This statement comes from Catholic Religious Australia in recognition of the 40th anniversary (May 27) of the referendum which paved the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become citizens of their own country. It also marks Sorry Day (May 26 - this year, the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report) and NationalAboriginal and Islander Sunday (July 1).
A spokesman for CRA, Fr Tim Brennan msc said: "In the midst of all the heartbreakingstatistics about indigenous Australians, and the competing political agendas, there is a group of priests, brothers and sisters who have lived and worked among indigenous Australians.
"We have been a privileged group of Australians. We have lived, worked, and wept with them.
"These last 40 years are not just about statistics; they are faces, friends and family stories.
"Statistics cannot tell the personal stories of struggle, and of joy.
"We wish there were more Australians for whom Indigenous Australia is not about statistics but about personal friends."
(The spokesman for this release was Fr Tim Brennan MSC. He is the Congregational Leader of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and a Catholic Religious Australia Council Member who ministered for many years in Darwin and is well known and respected within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.)