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Australian bishops welcome the Apostolic Exhortation

Responding to Friday's launch by Pope John Paul II of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference Archbishop Francis Carroll said expressed the bishops' delight that the Holy Father has taken up the cause of indigenous people.

"We are very pleased that the Pope has issued the Apostolic Exhortation on the anniversary of the opening of the special Synod for Oceania," he said. "We awaited this document with great anticipation."

"We are delighted that Pope John Paul II has taken up the cause of the indigenous peoples of Oceania and reiterated the forgiveness that we ask of our brothers and sisters for the shameful injustices of the past," he continued.

Ecclesia in Oceania, promulgated in Rome by the Pope, follows up the 1998 Synod attended by the bishops of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific.

The document reads in part "The Church expresses deep regret and asks forgiveness where her children have been or still are party to these wrongs. Aware of the shameful injustices done to indigenous peoples in Oceania, the Synod Fathers apologized unreservedly for the part played in these by members of the Church, especially where children were forcibly separated from their families."(n28)

Archbishop Carroll said: "Ecclesia in Oceania brings together many of the thoughts and issues raised by the Bishops of Australia at the 1998 Synod. This document also addresses key issues that are of concern in this region both for the community life of the Church and its mission in the wider society."

Pope John Paul II sent a copy of the exhortation to each bishop within the Oceania region via the Internet. Unable to travel to the southern hemisphere, the Pope chose to utilize new technology to publish the papal document.

Archbishop Carroll said: "While we are naturally disappointed that the Holy Father was not able to be present in person among us, we are grateful for the release of this Exhortation via modern technology."

Ecclesia in Oceania (PDF file)