This morning I watched our Federal Parliament open with prayer and proceed to a formal apology by our Prime Minister to the Aboriginal people of Australia. I am pleased that the apology was more than simply a reference to past wrongs. A vital part of this situation is the recognition that the indigenous people of Australia continue today to suffer incredible disadvantage in our community - disadvantage which in many ways is the consequence of both past and present political policy.
Perhaps just as importantly, today's apology included a commitment to a different future. True repentance always looks forward as well as backward. We must do things differently, we must learn from our mistakes and we must make appropriate reparation for corporate (and national) sin as well as for personal sin.
Today's events also prompt important questions for the churches that were involved in the stolen generations, as partners in the government's policy which lasted for most of the 20th century. Perhaps this is a good time to revisit those reconciliation statements and see what we are doing now to make a difference to the situation of Aboriginal people.