Image by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

In launching the Australian Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for this year’s Social Justice Sunday (27 August), Listen, Learn, Love, Bishop Vincent Long reminded us of the words of Pope John Paul II when he visited Australia in 1986:

The Church in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you, the Aboriginal people, have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.
Pope John Paul II, 1986

This year, in an epic moment for all of us in this country, each of us will have the opportunity to make our contribution to realising that vision. As Bishop Long pointed out, the referendum on the Voice to Parliament is a moral and social issue. It has been made political by those who seek to portray it as a threat to our democracy and who are using both misinformation and disinformation to further their own ends. These people ignore the modest and basic request which has been supported by the vast majority of First Nations peoples, the Australian churches, and community groups right across this country.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations peoples to non-Indigenous Australians for all of us to walk together for a better future. It calls for real and practical change through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to parliament, and a Makarrata Commission to embark on processes of treaty-making and truth-telling.

In spite of all the misinformation and misrepresentation, we know that the request for a Voice is very simply about two things:

  1. Recognising that First Nations Australians are the original peoples of this land;
  2. Ensuring that Indigenous Australians have the right to provide Parliament with advice (no more and no less) about laws and policies that directly affect their communities and their lives.

As Josephites, we support unequivocally the Bishops’ Social Justice Statement, and pledge to walk with First Nations peoples in this journey towards reconciliation, a Voice to Parliament, and a better future for all of us as Australians.

We are proud to endorse the referendum for an enshrined and protected Voice to Parliament.

Jan Barnett rsj
Josephite Justice Co-ordinator
Josephite Justice Network