As the peak Indigenous advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) is proud launch a National Consultation into Indigenous Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Australia.
It is a timely announcement, given that this Sunday – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday – will see Indigenous and non Indigenous Catholics sit side by side to celebrate the gifts that Australia’s first people bring to the Church in Australia.
In collaboration with Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Ministries, councils and communities, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the National Liturgical Council, the consultation aims to discover what can be done by Indigenous Catholics to bring to life the immortal words of Pope John Paul II in Alice Springs 1986:
The Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.
The consultation will focus on 3 key areas:
· Involvement of the Laity
As stated by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 2 , Liturgy is the centre of Christian life for the Church and the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are a deeply spiritual people, and through the consultation, NATSICC hopes to make whole our contribution to the life of the Catholic Church in Australia.
“It is about what we can do, instead of what we can’t” said NATSICC Chairperson Thelma Parker. “the cultural systems, life experiences and history of our people is diverse and varies dramatically as you cross this country. The consultation will respect and embrace those differences.” Chair of the Bishops Committee for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Bishop Christopher Saunders, in ‘Living the Gospel of Hope’ states
To establish an authentic unity among peoples, a just relationship must be forged with humility and driven by prayerful love. Any gulf between cultures that gives rise to exclusions, suffering, despair and injustice cannot be tolerated.
The consultation will take place over the next two years and culminate with the final report and recommendations being presented to the 2015 NATSICC National Assembly in Darwin. Interim updates and information will be made available over the course of the project.