Sadly, the Neocats followed their normal practice of evacuating the church as quickly as possible after Mass, even though an invitation to the ceremony was emailed to assistant pp Joe Pelle during the week (pp Mendes had been absent for 5 or 6 weeks). Pelle responded by berating the messenger’s divisiveness in specifically inviting the Neocatechumenal Way followers, and misguidedly assuring her that she was not representing the community.
Their final gesture towards reconciliation this morning was to remove the microphone from the pulpit after Mass, leaving the community without the use of the public address system for the ceremony.
Pruney leading the community in a prayer
The prayers and readings are reproduced below.
Ceremony of Healing – Redfern 2009
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples were affected by the policies which brought about the Stolen Generations. Those who were removed, and their families, still carry the pain of loss and separation. The road has been hard for many and they have been left feeling like dried bones, lifeless and abandoned. The Government’s Apology has brought healing for many but the pain is so great there is still a long journey ahead. We are ever hopeful that those in pain can find peace and that God is with them on this Journey of Healing. Week of Prayer for Reconciliation and Christian Unity.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology motion as tabled in Parliament, February 12, 2008:
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.
O God, You gave us the Dreaming. May we grow in appreciation and reverence for Your gift of this great land under the Southern Cross. May we value our fauna and flora, and also, above all, learn to value each other. May we experience forgiveness from each other, and reach out in friendship and peace. May we learn to forgive ourselves for the prejudices of the past, and work towards a nation of welcome for all.
We ask God’s blessing on ourselves and this church. As we do so, we use the tradition of placing our hands on various parts of our bodies; so I invite you to: Place your hands on your eyes: [pause] Bless our eyes that we may see clearly. Place your hands on your mouth: [pause] Bless our mouths that we may break the silence and speak the truth. Place your hands on your ears: [pause] Bless our ears that we may listen to the wisdom of each other. Place your hands on your heart: [pause] Bless our hearts that we may be open to each other in love. And finally, O God, Creator of peace and justice, Bless this church where we will grow together. Christ, Who embodied peace, Bless our ways of following You. Spirit of peace, Bless and inspire us today and in the days to come.
A symbol of healing, reconciliation and unity – dropping stones into water