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Bishops' riverboat launch of Murray-Darling pastoral statement

Three Catholic Bishops whose Dioceses take in the Murray-Darling basin will take to the deck of a paddlesteamer on the Murray today to launch a pastoral statement on the care and the future of the troubled great river system, which has been described as 'Australia's worst ecological disaster'.

Catholic Earthcare Australia chair, Bishop Christopher Toohey of Wilcannia-Forces, will launch the document from the Murray port of Echuca with Bishops Gerard Hanna (Wagga Wagga) and Peter Connors (Ballarat).

The document, an initiative of Catholic Earthcare Australia, has been endorsed by the eleven Bishops of the Murray-Darling basin. In it, the Bishops note that the Murray-Darling basin is widely recognised as a region that is critically important in economic, cultural and ecological terms.

"We will point, as well, to its deep spiritual importance," they say in the introduction to the pastoral statement.

"The restoration of the health of the Murray and the other rivers of the Basin is one of the most urgent issues facing our country. We are glad to say that it has been taken up vigorously by numbers of landholders, scientists, community leaders, environmental groups and politicians.

"We respect the enormous amount of community work already done. But we believe that all Australians need to become involved.

"As bishops, we would like to add our voices in support of the rivers and all those working to save them. In a particular way we want to reflect on the Murray-Darling basin from the perspective of Christian faith.

"We see its life-giving waters as a precious gift of God. We see human beings as responsible before God for the well-being of the river system."

Catholic Earthcare Australia executive secretary Colin Brown said he hopes each diocese in the basin will take up the issues raised in the document and implement a local action plan.

Bishops take to river boat for Murray-Darling pastoral statement launch (Catholic Earthcare Australia 11/10/04)

Catholic Earthcare Australia
Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace | Bishop Christopher Toohey | Bishop Gerard Hanna | Bishop Peter Connors
Bishops to address Australia's worst ecological disaster (CathNews 18/11/03)
Murray-Darling Basin Initiative
The Living Murray
Coalition unveils $20m salinity plan (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 27/9/04)

11 Oct 2004