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Australia celebrates 50 years of diplomacy with Holy See

Sydney, Australia

Taras Vyshnya | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 11/08/23

After half a century of cooperation, Australia and the Vatican will continue to work together against injustices.

The Holy See and Australia are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2023. During this time of reflection on the evolution of their bilateral relationship, the anniversary will showcase the two nation’s works to advance shared goals and highlight initiatives that honor half-a-century of cooperation. 

According to the website of the Australian Embassy of the Holy See, the theme of the 50th anniversary is “Marking Milestones: Forging a Better Future.” Events of the celebration will focus on four main areas, which the embassy listed as: 

“Ending exclusion, injustice and harm; amplifying First Nations voices; protecting our common home; and identifying new pathways for change through education and sport.”

Vatican official visit

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for Relations With States, is in Australia to commemorate the anniversary.

As well, anniversary festivities include the unveiling of a piece of art by Dr. Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, an Aboriginal elder from the Nauiyu community on the Daly River. Primarily an educator – the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in Australia’s Northern Territory – Dr. Ungunmerr Baumann is also an adept artist whose style leans heavily on Aboriginal themes. 

In June, Australian Ambassador Chiara Porro, the second ambassador to live in the embassy in Rome, arranged for Dr. Ungunmerr Baumann to meet with Pope Francis, to whom she gifted a piece of art. Ambassador Porro commented on their meeting: 

“It was a very warm, memorable encounter. He heard about her philosophy of ‘dadirri’ or ‘deep thinking.’ Giving him a picture of a tree in the shape of a crucifix, Dr Miriam Rose explained to the Pope how people in her community ‘see God in nature.’”

Ambassador Porro called the meeting at the Vatican “extraordinarily positive” and noted that some Vatican leaders remarked on how much they learned about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, especially in relation to the Catholic faith. 

According to Catholic Outlook, Ambassador Porro commented on the meeting with Pope Francis: 

“Pope Francis has said that he wants to be the ‘spokesman for the most profound plea of Indigenous Peoples,’” she says. “I believe this phrase crystalizes the Pope’s commitment to journeying together with First Nations communities towards reconciliation.

“This year is an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of our ties with the Holy See, but it is also a chance to consider how we can strengthen and renew our commitments towards shared goals into the future,” she said.

Visit the website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See to learn more.

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