National Reconciliation Week 2003
Journey of Healing 2003: Healing the past, shaping the future
National Sorry Day - May 26
National Reconciliation Week /
Week of Prayer for Reconciliation
May 27 to June 3
National Sorry Day is an important part of the Journey of Healing for both indigenous and non-indigenous people and commemorates the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families. In 1997 the Bringing Them Home report revealed the immense harm done.
Week of Prayer for Reconciliation is linked with National Reconciliation Week and always occurs between May 27 and June 3. These dates are significant. May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which 92% of Australians voted to include Aboriginal people in the reckoning of the census. June 3 marks the anniversary of the High Court’s judgement in the Mabo case in 1992, which recognised Native Title rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their lands.
For Prayer and Reflection
Poster available on National Council of Churches website: www.ncca.org.au
Meaning of the Poster:
Whiteman came to this country in their ships, with their guns.
The Blackman had no answers.
They were poisoned, shot, hung and put in chains as punishment.
Then along came religion, Christianity.
The Bible was read at campsites by whitemen and later black and white.
Now we walk side by side burning bridges of the past.
The chains of the past are broken,
and black and white walk on equal ground through this rugged, wide land – their spirit finally freed through Christianity.
Prayer for the Journey of Healing
Almighty and loving God,
You who created all people in your image,
Lead us to seek your compassion as we listen to the stories of our past.
You gave your only Son, Jesus,
who died and rose again so that sins will be forgiven.
We place before you the pain and anguish of dispossession
of land, language, lore, culture and family kinship
that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced.
We live in faith
that all people will rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
have endured the pain and loss of loved ones,
through the separation of children from their families.
We are sorry and ask God's forgiveness.
Touch the hearts of the broken, homeless and inflicted and heal their spirits.
In your mercy and compassion
walk with us as we continue our journey of healing
to create a future that is just and equitable.
Lord, you are our hope. Amen.
© Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission
National Council of Churches in Australia. 2003.
Prayer for Reconciliation (ACSJC Prayer Card)
In the midst of conflict and division,
We know it is you who turns our minds to thoughts of peace.
Your Spirit changes our hearts:
Enemies begin to speak to one another,
Those who were estranged join hands in friendship,
And nations seek the way of peace together.
Let your Spirit be at work in us.
Give us understanding and put an end to strife,
Fill us with mercy and overcome our denial,
Grant us wisdom and teach us to learn
From the people of the land,
Call us to justice. Amen.
The impetus and enthusiasm of the movement for Aboriginal reconciliation, at both grass roots and national levels, have diminished since the halcyon days of Corroboree 2000 in this city. That is perhaps scarcely surprising in an environment where, as a nation, we seem to be losing our way. Standards seem increasingly to be determined by opinion polls rather than principle. Pejorative labeling and calculated demonization even of genuine refugees, including children, seem to enjoy a disturbing degree of public acceptance.
The basis of the national movement for reconciliation must lie in principle; in the basic honesty to acknowledge the fact that the oppression and injustice to which indigenous Australians were subjected in their land under our Federation were not merely the acts of individuals who are long since dead. They were the acts of the nation itself of which all living Australians are a part. And in the basic justice of acceptance of the fact that past oppression and injustice remain part of the very fabric of our country. They reach from the past to blight the present and to demand national apology, redress of disadvantage, and reconciliation.
Sir William Deane
Address on Conferral of Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) University of Technology,
Sydney 29 April 2003
Address by Pope John Paul II to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Alice Springs, 29 November 1986
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council: www.natsicc.org.au
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission: www.ncca.org.au
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry: www.acc.asn.au/