Over the past 24 hours, Members of the Plenary Council voted on six motions from the Motions and Amendments document. The voting was staged over two rounds – the consultative and deliberative votes.
In voting on Reconciliation: Healing Wounds and Receiving Gifts, the Council endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart and encouraged engagement with processes for implementing the statement including local, regional and national “truth-telling efforts”.
Adelaide Archdiocese member Maddy Forde, who was visibly moved by the outcome of the votes, said it was a “bare minimum” in terms of how we go forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Maddy Forde said it was hard to express in words what the acceptance of the motions meant.
“My heart is truly full because the people I have encountered, I am bringing them with me, holding them on my sleeve with love,” she said.
“I hope that everything that may seem tokenistic at the moment, especially for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, I say that as a very passionate ally…that our acknowledgement, our sincerest words of apology and regret, that they become the base standard, the bare minimum.”
In another significant development on the second day of the final assembly, a clear majority of the bishops and Members supported the motions grouped under the theme of ‘Choosing Repentance – Seeking Healing’.
These included saying sorry to the victims and survivors of abuse, their families and communities, and recommitting the Church to respond with justice and compassion to those who have suffered from the trauma of abuse including, where appropriate, ongoing pastoral and spiritual support and accompaniment.
Other initiatives in the six approved motions included encouraging the practice, where appropriate, of local memorials in various forms as a tangible recognition of the harm done through abuse and the need for special care for children, and reaffirming the commitment of the Church in Australia to the work of implementing and improving safeguarding standards and practices.
Several amendments to motions were passed earlier in the day, including a call for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia, and the Association of Ministerial PJPs, with assistance from appropriate experts, to study, acknowledge and address systemic factors which have facilitated abuse within the Church.
The full details of the votes can be found online at the Motions and Voting page of the Plenary Council website.
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