Another Sorry Day at St Vincent’s

The congregation spontaneously applauded at the end of John Hill’s reflection on last Sunday’s readings. It was inspired by National Sorry Day, the annual commemoration (on May 26) of the tens of thousands of Indigenous people who were forcibly removed from their families as children.

As recently as last week Benedict XVI urged the Australian Government to seek forgiveness from Indigenous Australians: “I encourage you and the Government to continue to address with compassion and determination the deep underlying causes of their plight,” the Pope said. “Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness – two indispensable elements for peace.” [more]

The Neocat position, as proclaimed by assistant PP Clesio Mendes in his “homily” that day, was clear: there’s no point in saying sorry – just ask for God’s forgiveness. The congregation responded with incredulity; some walked out of the church.

Time and time again these men speak and act out of ignorance; a willful ignorance born of a refusal to become informed by reading or dialogue; an ignorance that is inexcusable in clergy appointed to a parish with an involvement and commitment to the Aboriginal people unlike any other; an ignorance that can only be seen as based on deep seated racism and prejudice that seems to be sanctioned by the church hierarchy.

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