Catholic Social Teachings for the Journey

Catholic Social Teachings act as a cornerstone for discernment on the forthcoming Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum. Grounded in the intrinsic dignity of every person, these teachings advocate for solidarity, subsidiarity and the pursuit of the common good, among other things. We cordially invite you to engage in a journey of dialogue, inclusivity, and justice, as we endeavour to foster a society where Indigenous voices are esteemed, acknowledged and actively engaged in shaping their own futures.

In Partnership with Caritas Australia, we have created a resource that focuses on Catholic Social Teaching principles (CSTs), with an accompanying series of discussion questions and a prayer to spark contemplation., dialogue and action towards the goals of First Nations recognition, truth-telling, equity and reconciliation. We invite you to download the resource as a key tool for discernment and discussion on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament Referendum.

You beautifully, wonderfully make us.
May we go your way of love.

You lead us to reconciliation.
May we go your way of justice.

You move us on the journey.
May we go your way of breath.


A Way of New Life

First shared in May 2017, the Uluru Statement From the Heart extends an open invitation to all Australians: to join together in a new life of justice and hope. It also highlights the challenges to be addressed as we move forward. The more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Delegates who came together “from all points of the southern sky” to “make this statement from the heart”, did so to remind us that the sovereignty of Australia’s First Nations Peoples “has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.” Powerfully, they ask, “How could it be otherwise?”.

The question affirms the deep and lasting spiritual and ancestral connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the lands they were born on and remain attached to. It also recognises their strength and resilience as the First Peoples of Australia, who have possessed and cared for this place and each other from “time immemorial” to today – for generations, according to their “own laws and customs” and “culture”.  

At this time in our shared history, as with other key moments in our  reconciliation journey, we are invited to walk a way of new life. Our first step is to recognise one another’s human dignity.   

A Way of Love

Sadly, given ongoing experiences of injustice, many First Nations people feel “unloved” by their fellow Australians. Aboriginal leader, lawyer, academic and activist Noel Pearson underlines the divisive role this lack of love – expressed as racism – plays in our common life and how it breeds hate and fear, to the detriment of First Nations Peoples. But he also imagines a way to overcome it. In the first of his five 2022 Boyer Lectures, he said:   

Of all the claims I will make in these lectures, this is the boldest and one of which I am most convicted: racism will diminish in this country when we succeed with recognition. It will not have the same purchase on us: neither on the majority party that has defaulted to it over two centuries, nor the minority that lives it, fears it and who too often succumb to the very fear itself.

How are we to respond?  

The road of reconciliation we have to walk is long. But in returning to the best of our spiritual traditions and, for Christians, to the new commandment Jesus gave to “love one another” (John 13:34), we discover again or for the first time that love always leads us to justice and hope – to a new life.

So, with the late great Uncle Archie Roach, may we sing: “Let love rule.”

Written by Dr Rebekah Pryor, Caritas Australia, in partnership with NATSICC.

Discussion Questions
  • How do Catholic Social Teachings shape your experience and expression of faith?
  • Following Jesus’s commandment “to love one another”, how do you, your household and community show love for First Nations Australian people?
  • How could the activities of truth-telling and agreement-making help address the inequity and other injustice experienced by First Nations Peoples in Australia?
  • Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann offers the concept of dadirri or deep listening as a practice that can help us along our journey of reconciliation.  Reflect on the sounds and voices you are listening to. Do they resonate with CST principles? Are there other, different voices you are yet to hear?
  • Stan Grant emphasises the need for compassion in our conversations about the Voice to Parliament. How will you demonstrate compassion in your interactions with others (including with differing views) about the Voice and related matters of justice for First Nations Peoples?  
Host a Kitchen Table Conversation

Hosting a Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) is a wonderful opportunity to bring your community together to listen, learn and reflect on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum that will be held in the coming months.
Get together as a group of friends, family, Parish community or colleagues to start the conversation.

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