The Catholic Church in Australia will celebrate Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2016 on 28 August.
Bishop Calls for Culture of Encounter and Welcome
Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, the Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees said, “Australia has had a long history of welcoming migrants and refugees, including many ‘boat people’ who in turn have contributed to its wellbeing and development”. He added that Pope Francis’ example provides us with “a timely and fresh impetus to reclaim the welcoming and generous spirit that has shaped our great nation”.
Bishop Long said that in this Year of Mercy, with many newly arrived migrants and refugees in Australia, we must enact a culture of encounter, welcome and acceptance in practical, personal and communal ways. He expressed appreciation for the parishes and organisations that are “actively assisting refugees that have recently arrived from war-torn Syria and Iraq.” He saw this as “a great opportunity for us to make a difference and to influence government policies in relation to refugees and asylum seekers”.
Bishop Says Close the Offshore Immigration Detention Centres
Bishop Long pleaded with the Australian authorities to close offshore detention centres in Manus Island and Nauru immediately. He called for an end to the sufferings of the asylum seekers by way of a more humane solution. “Any breach of their right to be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity will stain our conscience and blight our future as a nation,” he said.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton earlier indicated that the Manus Island Detention Centre would close – but there was no hurry. The Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office disagreed, saying “… we urge that a solution to the situation of the men in the detention centre ought to be decided quickly. Many of these men have already been in detention for more than three years.”
Read the Media Releases
You can read Bishop Long’s statement to the media here.
The ACMRO media release on the closure of the Manus Island Detention Centre is here.
Kit for Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2016
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office offers a kit with information and resources to help parishes and communities to celebrate this event. The Kit is available here.
More on Catholic Social Teaching
You can find an overview of Catholic Social Teaching on people on the move here.