Further Catholic support for apology

More Catholic groups and religious orders across Australia have welcomed the Government's impending apology to the Stolen Generations.

Coordinator of the Diocese of Broome's Office of Justice, Ecology and Peace Br Shane Wood has described the landmark event as one which has been "eagerly awaited" by both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

"The whole nation is in need of the healing power that is contained in the simple word 'Sorry' that many of our politicians have found so hard to say in the past, and some are still finding difficult," Br Wood said.

"The myths put about regarding an apology are still alive and well, even amongst some of our West Australian federal members.

"However, the time has come to face the demons of our past treatment of our indigenous people that continue to have such deleterious effects even today.

"The challenges will still be there to remove the remaining disadvantages suffered by our indigenous people, but our relationship will be based on a greater honesty than it has been in the past," he said.

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has rallied behind the government warmly welcoming the decision to make a formal apology.

However, the Commission says more needs to be done and must be followed up with implementation of the many recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report on which there has been no Government action.

The Commission's Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that no-one should seek to downplay or dismiss either the importance of the apology.

"Both the formal apology and the implementation of the actions identified by the Bringing Them Home Report are immensely important to Aboriginal people," Mr Arndt said.

"What the Church teaches about personal wrongdoing needs to be applied to wrongdoing at the social level," he said.

Likewise, the the Edmund Rice Centre urges the government to ensure the recommendations of Bringing Them Home Report are implemented.

Edmund Rice Centre Director Phil Glendenning said the government should be congratulated on this essential symbolic step which is necessary for healing.

"The challenge now is to also ensure indigenous Australians receive substantial support in terms of appropriate levels of services and compensation for the pain and suffering they and their families have endured," Mr Glendenning said.

"The form this substantial support and compensation should take is something that needs to be negotiated with the Stolen Generations themselves and the organisations that represent them."

The Good Samaritan sisters say the apology symbolises a "deep desire in the Australian people to be a nation where reconciliation and peace will become pervasive values."

Congregational leader Sr Clare Condon says the sisters call on the government to "listen deeply" to the needs of indigenous Australians and to respond to their aspirations.

12 Feb 2008