The Catholic Church in Australia has welcomed and affirmed the apology made in the Federal Parliament yesterday for the past treatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In a statement, Archbishop Philip Wilson,President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said: "We recall on this day our own statement, issued in 1998, in which we sought forgiveness from the victims of the policy that broke up Indigenous families, for any part the Church played in causing them harm and suffering. "A decade on, we reaffirm the sentiments expressed in that statement, that "the Catholic Bishops of Australia wish to record our commitment to continue the healing process for the benefit of victims of the unjust policies of the past, to support the just needs of Indigenous people today and to contribute to the quest for national reconciliation". "Today is a great day in the history of our nation because it represents a much longed-for point of arrival. But it must not end there. For true healing to take place we must also acknowledge that this National Apology is a point not only of arrival, but a point of hope and a point of departure. "Australia is a stronger nation today for having had the humility to say we are sorry that past policies were unjust and wrong, even when they were carried out with good intentions according to the prevailing attitudes of the era. "Having arrived at this point of healing, we must not fall into the trap of thinking that reconciliation is complete and our obligations as a nation are fulfilled. "Rather, we must take the hope that this Apology represents and move forward, determined to increase our efforts to improve the practical circumstances of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. This must be done by addressing the fundamental causes of entrenched disadvantage, in full consultation and collaboration with Indigenous communities. Appropriate resources must be made available to achieve real outcomes. "The Catholic Church, whose members work closely with Indigenous communities throughout Australia, will continue to assist in whatever ways possible to improve the situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples so that all Australians can live in peace and unity, with dignity and mutual respect." The National Council of Priests, Justice and Peace groups and Catholic Religious in Australia have also welcomed the apology and called for the government to collaborate with Aboriginal leaders to improve the quality of life of many whose lives have been traumatised. Source: ACBC/Church Resources
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