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The Catholic Bishops of Australia today released their 2003 Social Justice Sunday Statement – A Generous Heart in the Love of Christ: Challenging Racism in Australia Today

The Statement traces Australia’s story of welcome and exclusion, from the impact of white settlement to the development of a multicultural nation.

Launching the Statement, the Hon. Sir William Deane said it was significant to the Catholic Community and the nation as a whole. He said, “One reason why that is so is its subject matter, namely, our attitude to racism and the importance of the inclusion, rather than the exclusion of those who are particularly vulnerable through racial, religious or cultural difference. That subject matter lies at the heart of our national worth and decency in these difficult times.”

Responding to the Statement’s rejection of racism, Sir William said, “In its frank and honest acknowledgement of past injustices in our land, the Statement seems to me to provide convincing moral support for the mutual respect and acceptance which lie at the heart of our Australian multiculturalism. That moral support comes at a most appropriate time since, as the Statement points out, that multicultural respect and acceptance are currently being subjected to extraordinary pressures in our community.”

Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council stated, “While the Bishops note the recurrence today of racial hostility and rejection in aspects of the nation’s life, we also recognise Australia’s proud history of welcome that, more than ever, needs to be harnessed for a more inclusive society. Poor progress towards national reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, our treatment of asylum seekers and the racial hatred often experienced in the large cities by Arab and Muslim Australians are particular challenges we must all address for the health of the entire community.

“Based on the teaching and example of Christ, the Statement suggests ways we can ensure people of every race and background are welcomed in our parishes, schools, local communities and in public life”, Bishop Saunders concluded.