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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1531

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (11:35): The Catholic community has a long and proud history across the Northern Territory. On behalf of all its members, I rise to speak on this motion on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. According to the Diocese of Darwin website, the first documented activity of the Catholic Church in the Northern Territory was on 15 July 1882 when it was reported in the Northern Territory Times that 'two Roman Catholic priests of the Order of the Sacred Heart came ashore and baptised some young children belonging to Catholic families'. I am a proud member of the Catholic community that makes up a very large part of my electorate. According to the 2011 census data, approximately 25 per cent of my electorate are Catholics. The parishes we have are the Holy Spirit, the Holy Family, St Pauls, Our Lady Help of Christians and St Mary, Star of the Sea. That is why it is important that I am here today to talk on this very important motion.

The resignation last week of Pope Benedict XVI came as a great shock, not only across my electorate but across the Catholic community throughout the world. If you asked anyone they would confirm that Pope Benedict XVI, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, led with dignity and strength. Darwin Catholics were delighted that Pope Benedict XVI visited our beautiful city, albeit for a very short time, on his way to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008.

The pontiff had dedicated his life to the church. His decision to resign as Pope due to ill health and failing strength reaffirms the self-sacrifice he has shown throughout his life. I am sure everyone will agree that to still be working such long hours and having such commitment at 85 years of age is truly extraordinary. To recognise that he would not be able to fulfil his obligations in his role due to his personal circumstances and decide to step down shows a truly courageous character.

This morning I spoke with the Northern Territory's bishop, Bishop Eugene Hurley, who said he was delighted to have been able to host the pontiff in Darwin when he was on his way to World Youth Day in 2008 and that he was privileged to travel with the pontiff to Sydney for that event. Bishop Hurley recalled subsequent meetings with the pontiff in Rome where the Darwin visit was discussed with great fondness. Bishop Hurley remarked that Pope Benedict made a significant contribution to world peace. He said Pope Benedict will be greatly missed by him personally and by the Catholic community in the Northern Territory.

On behalf of the people of Solomon, I would like to thank the pontiff for his commitment and contribution to the Catholic community and wish him the very, very best for his retirement. I wish those selecting our new pontiff the very best of luck, because we need to make sure we have a pontiff who is going to be able to take us into the 21st century and to follow on from the great work of Pope Benedict XVI, who, as we heard from members on the other side, led the way into the digital age with Twitter. Things are changing so much that the next pontiff will have some very extraordinary things to deal with, so I wish them all the very best in their deliberations.