Australian aborigines culture “can’t disappear.” It’s the heart of the Message written by Pope Francis on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the visit made by St. John Paul II, 29 November 1986, to Alice Spring, when he met Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia. The text, sent by the Apostolic Nuncio in Canberra, mons. Adolfo Tito Yllana, is addressed to the president of the Catholic Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, John Lochowiak.
As reported by Vatican Radio, Bergoglio expressed his “spiritual closeness” to the Australian aborigines and his “profound respect” for their “ancient heritage” manifesting “the genius and dignity” of this population. Recalling the words of John Paul II, spoken 30 years ago, the Pope said: “Don’t think that your gifts are worth so little and you don’t want to save them. Share them between you and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, they should never be lost. When you share the noble traditions of your community – he writes – you also witness the power of the Gospel to refine and purify every society and in this way is fulfilled God’s holy will. ”
Already in his historic speech, John Paul II reminded that the Gospel “speaks all languages. He appreciates and embraces all cultures. He supports them in all things human and, if necessary, it purifies them. “ Wojtyla had denounced abuses committed by European colonizers who have expropriated the lands inhabited by the aborigines always, considering them “no man’s land.” In 1992, the Australian High Court issued a landmark ruling establishing the decline of the principle of “terra nullius”. On 21 June, after a battle that lasted almost 40 years, people of the Australian Aboriginal Larrakia has finally regained their ancestral lands: 52,000 hectares in the Northern Territory, near Darwin.
Speaking with Jesuits on October 24 last year, Pope Francis is back on the issue of indigenous peoples, emphasizing that today globalization leveling and destructive want to cancel them. Instead, their cultures “should be recovered.” In the Church, referring to the colonial era, he said that the hermeneutics of that time “was to seek the conversion of the peoples”, where the domineering empire somehow imposing its faith and its culture. It is understandable that at that time we thought so, but today it is absolutely necessary a change we need to enhance “every people, its culture, its language.” The Pope refers to the positive inculturation attempt by Jesuit missionaries Matteo Ricci in China, Roberto de Nobili in India:”They were pioneers, but an hegemonic conception of the Roman centralism braked that experience, interrupted it, BLOCKING a dialogue in which cultures are respected “.