OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Aborigines: quarantine as a time for reflection accompanied by John Paul II

Friday, 3 April 2020

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - Take advantage of the period of social isolation, aimed at containing the emergence of the Coronavirus in order to be inspired by the words that John Paul II addressed to the Aborigines and the islanders of the Strait of Torres in 1986, because "his message at the time sounded revolutionary, but in current circumstances it gives us hope and strength and the awareness of being a united nation against a common threat". This is the invitation, contained in a note, sent to Agenzia Fides, which the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Torres Strait addresses to its community.
In his 1986 message, John Paul II invited Aboriginal Catholics to put themselves in an attitude of "reconciliation" to make their contribution to the growth of the nation: "Only in this way you will give your best contribution to all the brothers and sisters in this great nation. You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. The church herself in Australia will not be fully the church wanted by Jesus until you have made your contribution to his life and until this contribution has been received with joy by others". This contribution, according to the Polish Pontiff, bears the imprint of the Holy Spirit: "During all this time the Spirit of God has been with you. Your 'dreaming' is your way of touching the mystery of the Spirit of God in you and in creation. You must continue to strive to reach God, and persist in this attitude in your life".
In this period of emergency, the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and the Strait of Torres is carrying out a service of assistance to the most needy, offering kits of personal effects for hospital stays and support via Skype for older people. A "mailing list" service has also been activated which provides updates and useful information regarding the covid-19 emergency. In this regard, the note reads: "We try to support our communities by sharing useful information to deal with this crisis. We are not expert doctors, but we suggest everyone to follow the guidelines set by the government and medical authorities. For our part, we pray that all our communities are safe: priests, families and communities are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult and challenging period".
The National Catholic Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Strait of Torres (NATSICC) is the highest consultative body of the Australian Bishops on issues relating to native communities, which include over 130,000 Catholics. Among the activities within the Council's competence there is the sacramental journey and pastoral care, charitable support for the poor and assistance to the sick and prisoners. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/4/2020)