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Catholic Bishops: Australians may disagree in good faith on Voice to Parliament

The bishops have also requested Catholic parishes, schools and agencies come together to discuss the Uluru Statement from the Heart

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The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has published a statement recognising that people “may, in good faith, have differing concerns and perspectives” on the First Nations Voice referendum taking place later this year, and have encouraged Australians to engage in respectful debate.

“We urge all Australians to engage in the debate productively, respecting each other and accepting that people may, in good faith, have differing concerns and perspectives,” the ACBC’s statement reads.

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“We are an open democracy, and this is a moment to use our democratic institutions to produce a high-quality debate shaped by a genuine concern to do justice and bring healing to First Nations Peoples.”

The bishops encouraged Australians to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was endorsed in 2021 and endorsed again in 2022 by the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

“In particular, we recommend that Catholic parishes, schools and agencies arrange opportunities for people to come together to read and discuss the Uluru Statement,” the bishops said.

The bishops nevertheless said that the proposed Voice to Parliament, while “not the only possible way of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our Constitution … is the way requested by those who gathered at the historic meeting at Uluru.”

“This could be a significant step towards a more just and equitable Australia,” the bishops said.

“The wording to change the Constitution and establish the Voice is currently being discussed.

“We will soon have the opportunity to examine the precise wording and we will be asked to vote on the proposal towards the end of the year.

“We want to encourage all Australians to educate themselves as well as possible concerning the proposal to establish the Voice.

“This is an important moment in the history of the nation, and it can help us to move towards a deep and just reconciliation.

“It also offers a mechanism to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

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