Archbishop advocates for genuine respect over tokenism on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

Archbishop Prowse urged a shift in attitudes towards Australia’s First Peoples at the recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass. He highlighted the pitfalls of politicising relationships and stressed the need for genuine respect over token gestures.

Reflecting on Australia’s socio-political landscape, Archbishop Prowse noted, “It is about one year since the Constitutional Referendum lapsed so spectacularly. At the same time, the socio-economic indicators of our Aboriginal First Peoples are still deplorable, especially regarding incarceration in our prisons.”

“In recent months, I attended a government function where numerous political figures made Acknowledgments of Country. While I’m enthusiastic about Acknowledgment of Country, doing it in an overly politicised manner leans towards tokenism,” he said.

“For over six speakers in an hour and a half to make an Acknowledgment of Country moves towards tokenism and patronising our First Australians. Once this ‘box’ was ticked, none of the substance of the speeches made any reference to Aboriginal matters.”

Reflecting on the challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples face, Archbishop Prowse emphasised the importance of sincere acknowledgement, warning against the dangers of familiarity breeding contempt and the importance of genuine respect.

He shared how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are choosing the Catholic Educational system “to give their children a truly broad and deep education, which includes an ennobling of their Aboriginal background”.

“This truly is an Acknowledgment of Country,” said Archbihsop Prowse.

In a call to action, Archbishop Prowse encouraged individuals to engage with and befriend First Nations Peoples in their communities, promoting unity and understanding. He underscored the significance of moving beyond empty gestures to embrace meaningful relationships that honour and respect.

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Archbishop Prowse concluded his remarks with a message of unity and faith: “Let us keep the fires burning and be strong in faith with our First Australians by encouraging healthy attitudes and discourse to flourish.”

Download Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s Homily for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2024


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  • Nessa 3 days

    befriending all people in our community might be a true Christian way. Often they happen to be of indigenous background. Regular people see the Welcome to country as long phylacteries; a performance to endear the godless. If we are baptised once and born in Australia why would we keep acknowledging a heritage that Aboriginal people don’t even hold strictly? It’s a wasted time when there is One God we want to bow to.