Australia’s Catholic bishops have praised the nation’s Indigenous mothers in their annual message for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, which will be celebrated this weekend.
‘Because of her, we can’ is the theme of this year’s celebration.
It is the same theme for NAIDOC week, which runs from July 8-15.
In their message, the bishops referred to examples of “unjust” inter-race relations in the nation’s history, such as “the societal upheaval and social dislocation wrought by the hideous Stolen Generation policies continues as an inter-generational problem affecting still the well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
They also pointed to racism, enslavement of Aboriginal people in some industries, wholesale occupation of their lands and their banishment from traditional country.
However, they wrote, “Despite all the horrendous stories of injustice and the untold thousands of chapters that could be written on the matter, it is heartening to recognise the mothers who have battled and largely succeeded in holding Indigenous families together”.
The bishops acknowledged the goodness and “heroic efforts” of Indigenous mothers and other Australians who are “driven by a sense of charity and a longing for what is right”.
The message also spoke of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her depiction in Michaelangelo’s Pieta as a powerful image of loving and suffering motherhood to be “nurtured, supported, and prayed for in our community”.
John Lochowiak, chairman of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, said the 2018 theme is a fitting tribute to Indigenous women.
“The phrase ‘Because of her, we can’ is relevant to both our culture and to the Marian tradition,” he said.
“Women form the backbone of communities across Australia. This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Islander Catholic ministries.”