Australian Parliament Finally Says ‘Sorry’

Australia‘s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has finally revealed the wording that he will use tomorrow as he delivers Federal Parliament’s apology to the Stolen Generations:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

For some reactions to the wording from the National Aboriginal Alliance, see here.

Also, ABC News Online will stream Kevin Rudd’s apology from 8:55am AEDT on Wednesday. The apology will also be broadcast on ABC TV and ABC Local Radio.

I have posted more on this issue here.

Human dignity

– ‘The dignity, the very dignity of man himself is better assured if he were broken upon the maintenance of that holiness of God than if it were put aside arbitrarily, just to let him off with his life. This holy order is as essential to man’s greatness as it is to God’s; and that is why the holy satisfaction Christ made to God’s holiness is in the same act the glorifier of the new humanity. Any religion which leaves out of supreme count the judging holiness of God is making a great contribution to the degradation of man. We need a religion which decides the eternal destiny of man; and unless holiness were practically and adequately established – not merely recognised and eulogised, but established – there could be no real, deep, permanent change in the world or the sinner. The change in the treatment of us by eternal grace must rest on judgment taking effect. Man is not forgiven simply by forgetting and mending, by agreeing that no more is to be said about it. To make little of sin is to belittle the holiness of God; and from a reduced holiness no salvation could come, nor could human dignity remain.’ (P T Forsyth, The Work of Christ, 128-9)

‘Everything that enhances the native purity of man, that extenuates his sin, that diminishes his guilt, and sets over him but a kind father, really belittles his greatness. Man can only have huge guilt because capable of great things (Matt. vi. 23). It is a tremendous power to be capable of sin against God. It betokens, as nothing else but holiness can do, the greatness of the soul, and its place and its issues.’ (P T Forsyth, Missions in State and Church, 32)