Australia’s history has been marked by the “constant endeavour” of the Catholic Church to provide healthcare, education and charitable services, the Vatican Secretary of State has said.
Speaking at a Mass to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Australia and the Holy See on April 28th, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Catholic Australians “have courageously sought to be good stewards”.
He urged everyone to look to the example of Australia’s first saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909), Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
Beatified by Pope John Paul II on 19 January 1995 in Sydney during his Apostolic Visit in Oceania, she was later canonized on 17 October 2010 in St Peter’s by Benedict XVI who prayed at her grave during the World Youth Day on 17 July 2008.
Through her witness, Mary MacKillop stands as the incontrovertible witness of the role of Australian Catholics, Cardinal Parolin said. And yet, as she “knew only too well, the task is never complete. There is a great deal still to be done, not only in those fields of traditional collaboration, but together facing up to new challenges, especially fostering the respect of human rights”.
He concluded: “Encouraged by the road of cooperation that Australia and the Holy See have already walked together, we can look to the future with confidence, seeking out those ‘new ways of living together in fidelity to the Gospel’.
“We know that treading that path will oblige us to respond ever more generously with the gifts given to each of us as persons, and as communities,” he said.
The Mass took place in the Vatican church of St Mary Mother of the Family, at the Governatorato.
Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, concelebrated together with Bishops Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences, Bishop Peter Comensoli, Auxiliary and Apostolic Administrator of Sydney, Bishop Forest Puthur, Prefect of Saint Thomas the Apostle of the Syro-Malabar in Melbourne, Bishop Antoine Tarabay, Prefect of Saint Maron of Sydney of the Maronites, and Msgr Peter Bryan Wells, Commissioner of the Secretariat of State. The Australian Senator Mr John Hogg together with his wife and the Ambassador to the Holy See Mr John McCarthy, KCSG were also present.
This year also marks the centenary of the establishment of the Apostolic Delegation to Australia, the largest nation of Oceania.