In a heartfelt message addressed to the Catholic Diocese of the Northern Territory, Bishop Charles Gauci, on his fifth Episcopal Ordination Anniversary, has publicly voiced his endorsement for a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming Referendum on the Voice.
The Bishop, while understanding the diversity of opinions on this issue, emphasises his unwavering respect for individual choices and convictions, firmly stating, “I will never presume to dictate how you should vote; you must follow your own conscience and convictions.”
This decision, as Bishop Gauci highlights, stems from deep reflection on the Gospel’s teachings. He underscores that a ‘Yes’ vote is not a panacea but rather a critical stride toward healing and reconciliation. It signifies, at its core, the inherent dignity of Australia’s First Nations people.
The Bishop provides a poignant historical context, reminding us that our First Nations people had no voice during the colonisation when their land was declared terra nullius. They were not consulted when their lands were taken, and often their family and social structures were deliberately dismantled. The dark chapter of the Stolen Generations unfolded without their consent.
Today, significant disparities continue to persist in various aspects of life between First Nations people and the broader community. Challenges like overcrowded housing, unemployment, lower life expectancy, health inequalities, and other disadvantages endure within their communities.
While Bishop Gauci underscores the importance of our multicultural society, he passionately argues that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who have an ancient and enduring presence, deserve unique recognition of their rich cultural heritage within our society.
The Bishop concludes by reiterating that his intention is not to dictate how others should vote but to share his personal viewpoint. He encourages thoughtful consideration of the Referendum’s multifaceted dimensions and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in this momentous decision. Regardless of the outcome, he urges all to remain dedicated to working together for the common good, striving to improve the lives and standing beside our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.
This heartfelt message reflects the Bishop’s commitment to fostering unity, respect, and reconciliation within the Northern Territory and beyond.
To learn more about the Diocese of Darwin’s messaging around the Voice to Parliament, visit https://darwin.catholic.org.au/voice-to-parliament/
With thanks to the Catholic Diocese of Darwin.