(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of St John Paul II’s words to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Alice Springs, Australia on 29 November 1986.
The letter was sent to the Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), John Lochowiak, by the Apostolic Nuncio to Canberra Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana.
The Holy Father writes that, “this anniversary affords me the happy opportunity to express my deep esteem for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for your ancient cultural heritage”.
He also draws from the words of Pope John II which stress, “your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear. Do not think that your gifts are worth so little that you should no longer bother to maintain them. Share them with each other and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost.”
In July the Pope’s prayer intention was for Respect for Indigenous Peoples.