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Pope's apology to Aboriginies "opens way to treaty"

A leading Aboriginal Catholic Church official has aid that Pope John Paul II's apology to indigenous Australians opens the way for a treaty or compact between white and black Australians.

Ms Vicki Walker, chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), said the apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania "contains strong words, challenging the Church in Oceania".

The document was the Pope's recent response to the 1998 Synod of Bishops of Oceania in which the Holy Father apologised to indigenous people, including Australia's Stolen Generation.

She noted that the Pope named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people as "a special case ... whose culture struggles to survive", before going on to pledge the Church's support for the cause of indigenous peoples, "who seek a just and equitable recognition of their identity and rights".

Catholic Leader