On Thursday 1 June, at the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Headquarters in Rome, Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann provided an Indigenous perspective on integral ecology: the concept of Dadirri. The conversation was facilitated by Sr Adele Howard RSM, in partnership with Caritas International.
Esteemed guests that were part of the audience included the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro, representatives from international embassies including Ireland and Morocco and the new Secretary General of Caritas, Alistair Dutton.
The new Secretary General of Caritas acknowledged the Indigenous connection with the land
“We see the special connection that Indigenous People have with their lands. When we take the time to slow down and listen, we can understand, recapture some of what went before that in our busy lives that we have lost. That is creating the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ that Pope Francis exhorts us to pay attention to. I think your work in that Dr. Miriam Rose, is a really salient and timely challenge to us all,” said Mr Dutton.
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See reflects on the words of Pope Francis
“Having just concluded Laudato Si’ week, it feels pertinent to remind ourselves of some of Pope Francis’s words on this point. He tells us that, given the complexity of the ecological crisis, and its multiple causes, we need to realise that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality,” said Ambassador Porro.
The Meaning of Dadirri
The conversation about the concept of Dadirri started off with a short video being played that showed Miriam walking in Country and being immersed in the land. The moving video, narrated by Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann, explained the connection Indigenous People have to the river and that Dadirri is the deep inner spring inside us.
It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again.
“I’m part of nature in a way. We wouldn’t be here with you now or I wouldn’t be here with you now. Or even the people that you know in Australia because for the past 60 or more 1000 years or more, we had to understand this way to be able to survive and live,” said Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann.
“The water is life giving and if you come to Daly, we welcome you into the land. It’s part of having a safe journey through the land. It’s like you welcoming me to your home. So we take you to the river”.
“We splash water on the crown of the head for wisdom and knowledge. We splash water on your navel as that’s where you connect it to your mother before you come out into the world.”
Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann AM, a renowned Australian Aboriginal elder, educator and artist, is a special guest of the Australian Embassy to the Vatican. The talk was part of a series of special events from 29 May to 3 June 2023, focused on Reconciliation with Indigenous Australians. The year 2023 holds extra significance as it marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Holy See.
Watch the video of the event here:
Special events were held across the week including a presentation by Fr Frank Brennan SJ, advocate for Indigenous Australians followed by remarks from Monsignor Anthony Ekpo, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. You can see the video of the event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwVExT04RGo
For the full list of events that were organised by the Australian Embassy to the Holy See for Reconciliation Week, go to https://holysee.embassy.gov.au/hyse/reconciliationweek.html
Read Fr Frank Brennan’s homily for Trinity Sunday which contains more information on Reconciliation Week and his and Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann’s activities at the Vatican here.
Beckie Lee is a freelance journalist and contributor to Catholic Outlook.