Bishops say apology will mend "broken lives"

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is optimistic that the Federal Government's apology to indigenous Australians will help break the impasse and bring about new opportunities to mend "broken lives."

The Catholic Weekly reports the Bishops Commission for Relations with Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander People, Chair Archbishop Barry Hickey (pictured) says the apology will "free up the emotional logjam" and help Aboriginal people, as individuals and groups, to approach their future with greater optimism and determination.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will make a formal apology to members of the Stolen Generation on February 13.

Mr Rudd said the symbolism of the apology was "crucial and necessary".

"It's building a bridge of respect, which I think has been in some state of disrepair in recent decades," Mr Rudd said.

Archbishop Hickey said he believes it will be a "great relief to most Australians when the Federal Government finally makes the apology."

"The general population has been far ahead of its political leaders on this matter, just as the people were on the 1967 referendum which granted full citizenship to Aboriginal people," Archbishop Hickey said.

"In the past, I have publicly expressed sorrow for many things that happened in the Church's involvement with Aboriginal people.

"I also pointed out the many positive aspects of the Church's missionary endeavours, such as good education, health care and the Catholic Faith."

Bishops hope 'sorry' will free 'emotional logjam' (The Catholic Weekly 10/01/08)

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Australian Catholic Bishops Council

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7 Feb 2008