Bishop Charles Gauci has spent much of his first year as Bishop of Darwin moving about Australia’s massive northern diocese that is two-and-a-half times the size of France. Source: The Catholic Leader.
“I’m on a new adventure, walking alongside many people,” Bishop Gauci said.
His travels have taken him from the tropical Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, to the former mission of Santa Teresa, in the red centre, south-east of Alice Springs – reflecting the diversity of landscapes, people and priests that make up the Northern Territory.
“We need to be looking at how do we respond as a Church to the challenges of our time in this place. We are not creating a different Catholic Church. We are the Catholic Church in the Northern Territory.”
To better understand the daily struggles of his priests – missionaries drawn from religious orders from across Australia and overseas (the Northern Territory has one seminarian studying in Melbourne) – Bishop Gauci spent time in every remote parish and with every remote area priest.
“I learn about the priests’ commitment, their love of the people, their zeal, I admire some of the challenges they have to face there alone,” he said.
“They are here because they are wanting to serve God and they have moved away from home and other places, and they are not doing it for any other reason than to serve the people of God. They love their people.”
Top of Bishop Gauci’s list of concerns is the welfare of indigenous Australians who make up one-third of all Catholics across his diocese.
“My experience tells me many of the Aboriginal people I’ve been meeting with are amongst the most traumatised people I’ve ever met, and maybe even on this planet,” Bishop Gauci said.
“They have gone through the whole process of colonisation where horrible and violent acts were done against them, they were treated as less than human, they were poisoned, shot at, dispossessed – within living memory for some of them.”
Bishop Gauci sees intergenerational trauma as a gaping wound, but recognises positive Church action today as part of a remedy.
“They need us to be walking alongside them to come up with their own solutions,” he said.
“We need to be there walking alongside the Aboriginal people.
Top End Bishop says Indigenous are ‘the most traumatised people I’ve ever met’ (The Catholic Leader)