Sorry Day, 13 February 2008, was a day of great happiness and hope for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. On that day our new government said sorry for many of the atrocities inflicted upon Aborigines by previous administrations.
It is hard to imagine what the Redfern Neocat clergy made of all this.
Last Sunday Mendes obviously felt obliged to mention the apology – and he did, using barely a couple of dozen words, completely without context. However, after the Community offered the following Prayers of the Faithful, adapted from ANTaR’s Seven Steps for Justice Campaign, he could only suggest that prayers be kept short in future.
We pray that the gap between Indigenous life expectancy and that of other Australians is closed within a generation by means of an adequately resourced plan with targets, benchmarks, and an evaluation process.
O God, hear us.
We pray that both the Native Title and Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Acts are reformed to restore land justice and to bring timely resolution of land claims for Indigenous people.
We pray that a Social Justice Package for Aboriginal people is introduced into Australia as was promised in the Keating Government’s response to the High Court’s Native Title decision.
We pray that the Northern Territory Intervention is replaced with a child-centred, evidence-based approach to overcoming abuse and violence, an approach which is developed in conjunction with Aboriginal people, and which includes addressing historic backlogs in housing, infrastructure, and education.
We pray that we achieve change in the Australian Constitution, change which entrenches the rights of Aborigines in the legally binding body of the Document.
We pray that all Australians support and facilitate the establishment of an independent National Aboriginal Representative Body, the form of which should be negotiated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially so that Indigenous people are assured their voice is heard, and so that governments do not simply dictate to them what they can have or what is going to happen to them
At about the same time that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was writing his historical apology speech, assistant pp Pelle was addressing a Sydney Archdiocese Deanery meeting, where he stated that no Aborigines attended mass at St Vincents.
It is not the first time since Ted Kennedy’s time that St Vincent’s clergy, or for that matter the Cardinal himself, have tried this line.
Perhaps if they could find the time to linger a little after Mass – instead of rushing out as if the roof was about to fall in – they might get to know some of the regular Aboriginal members of the Community and perhaps join in the normal a cup of coffee afterwards at one of the local cafes.