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Bishops express Federation wish for social harmony

The Catholic bishops have warned that Australians should not let the Federation Centenary celebrations obscure the challenge to confront and combat many social issues facing the nation.

They released a statement titled The Catholic Church and the Centenary of Federation on Friday, at the end of a ten day meeting in Sydney.

The statement reflects on the role of the Catholic Church in the leadup to Federation and comments on the Church's wish to share in the growth of a nation moulded on high ideals.

It quotes the wish of the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Moran that Federation would bring about religious and racial harmony: "May this be the crowning mission of Australia's Commonwealth: to pull down the barriers that irreligious discord and racial strife would raise, and to erect on their ruins a glorious temple of abiding concord and long-enduring peace."

The Bishops' statement on Friday described the Federation Centenary celebrations as "an ideal time to analyse whether in fact the nation has lived up to expectations, particularly in relation to social issues". They described their view of modern day Australia as one in which issues reflecting inequality and injustice are prevalent, especially in relation to the treatment of the marginalised.

The statement said: "While this panoramic view of Australia today includes many problems, we are not forgetful of the rich blessings showered on our free and beautiful land. While we have named some areas where change is needed, we are confident that, under God, Australians, who have so many fine qualities, will address these issues successfully in our second century as a nation."

The full text is available on the ACBC website.