Speech by John Dupuche on the occasion of the signing of the
Living in Harmony Accord, in
Queen’s Hall, Parliament of Victoria,
30 March 2005
At the conclusion of Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the first anniversary of the Bali bombing, before a large congregation which included the Governor of Victoria, the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, many members of Parliament and Mr Yasser Soliman, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Archbishop Hart publicly declared the wholehearted support of the Catholic Church – which numbers about one million in Melbourne – for the Muslims Melbourne, especially at a time when the they were nder pressure due to events beyond their control.
The Archbishop’s statement concurs with the remarkable declaration of the Second Vatican Council, which reads as follows:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. … The Church, therefore, urges her [children] to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.”
This declaration, which is a watershed statement in the two thousand year history of the Church, urges its members not just to tolerate but to actively “acknowledge, preserve and encourage” the truths of other religions; and not just their religious truths but “their social life and culture” as well.
In keeping with this statement, the Catholic Church in Melbourne sought to make an Intervention with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in support of the Islamic Council of Victoria in its complaint against vilification. The Church was especially glad to do so in tandem with the Uniting Church, which also applied to make an Intervention. The ecumenical and interfaith endeavours thus came together very neatly.
The Catholic Church has cooperated with the Muslim Community in a number of other ventures over recent times and is looking forward to developing this relationship in the years to come.
Australia is perhaps the most international of nations and Melbourne is one of the most cosmopolitan of cities. We have many reasons to be proud of our history, of which perhaps the most significant achievement is the harmonious society formed by people of virtually every language and culture and religion under the sun. This is not to say the record has been without fault, especially in regard to the original inhabitants of this vast land. Nevertheless the achievement in its positive aspect is a model for the whole world and a foretaste of what the global village might be like in the future.
The Community Accord makes a significant contribution to this harmonious society. The Catholic Church of Melbourne is happy, therefore, to be one of the signatories and is committed to putting its terms into practice. Bishop Prowse will sign on behalf of the Archbishop.