Social Justice Sunday – Listen, Learn, Love: A New Engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
On Sunday 27 August the Catholic Church will celebrate its annual Social Justice Sunday. This day focuses parishes and broader communities alike on the gospel imperative to care for those in greatest need. Since the 1940s, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has released a Social Justice Statement in concert with this event, to contribute to the development of local Catholic Social Teaching.
This year’s statement is united with the Loreto commitment to the Rights of First Nations People. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members were involved in writing this document prepared in partnership with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council. Entitled Listen, Learn, Love: A New Engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, it speaks directly about the history of injustice and mistreatment faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It also shares hopes for a future characterised by justice, reconciliation and respect for the dignity of all peoples in this land. The statement reminds that the imperatives of the Catholic faith tradition call all people to seek out opportunities for dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to become more informed about our shared past, present and future.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM, chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, reminds us that conversation and listening is imperative to learning, and consequently the statement encourages Catholics to engage with the conversation “by being with our sisters and brothers on the peripheries of society” and listening. The statement encourages:
“Let us commit ourselves to fostering a civilisation of love in Australia … Let’s come together in friendship and love to show all that love can not only change individual lives, but that it can change society for the better.”
As the lessons of Mary Ward’s life teach us, from a transformed heart, good works, or ‘works of justice’, flow. May we commit ourselves to opening our hearts to our indigenous brothers and sisters, and listening and learning what the future in this country could look like if only we honestly engaged with our past and our present.
You can access the 2023-2024 Social Justice Statement here.
Image: Mary Ward International Australia supports the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub Project, a female led community organisation in Balgo (Wirrimanu). To learn more visit Mary Ward International Australia.
Author: Carolyn Young, Loreto Justice Network