What does Harmony Week mean to us as Catholics
Harmony Week is an opportunity for all Australians to embrace cultural diversity and share what we have in common. Australia is one of the world’s most successful multicultural countries, and our cultural diversity is at the heart of who we are. Over half of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas. That’s why it’s so important that we celebrate our country’s diversity through Harmony Week.
Harmony Week is also about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, from the Traditional Owners of the land to our most recent arrivals, and celebrating that no matter where you come from. We’re united by the Australian values of freedom, respect, fairness, democracy and equal opportunity.
Pope Francis explains to us that the Holy Spirit is the master of harmony. “He is capable of making it, and He has made it happen here. It is what needs to happen in our hearts. Many things in us must change to create harmony because He Himself is harmony” (Homily of his holiness Pope Francis, “The Holy Spirit: Master of Harmony“, Tuesday, 21 April 2020).
The Christian faith has always taught that each person is uniquely precious and deserving of respect. In recent years we have become much more sensitive to the extent of discrimination in our society. We have come to see more clearly how easily we can take it for granted and fail to notice it.
Our Harmony Week celebrations in Australia centre on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Racial discrimination is unjustifiable because it is built on a shallow and dangerous understanding of what it means to be human. It assumes that the most important and defining quality of people is their race. From that belief follows the conclusion that race controls the way people should be treated. Although racial identity is an important aspect of human lives, each person is uniquely precious simply because they are human. Because we share a common humanity, we are all entitled to equal respect. We should not privilege one group over another on the grounds of race, wealth, gender, religion or political allegiances.
In any society, discrimination against minority groups in society displays a lack of respect for the humanity of the people who are discriminated against. Societies often need laws against racial and other forms of discrimination. But such laws cannot create respect. Respect is the business of the whole community. That is why we have a World Day to remind us of this call.
As a College community, we pray together:
Melissa Trolio | Director of Mission