A humanitarian crisis is unfolding on Manus Island following the closure of the Australian funded immigration detention centre on 31 October 2017. Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference spokesperson on asylum seekers and refugees. He made the following statement on 3 November. Bishop Long’s Statement “The safety and well-being of over 600 asylum seekers on Manus Island are at risk following the closure of the regional processing centre. These men, most of whom are proven refugees were held in mandatory and indefinite detention under an agreement between the Australian and PNG Governments. Now after more than four years, this agreement has not worked. It has failed to provide welfare and safety to the detainees. Furthermore, very few have been resettled elsewhere. Australia, which authorised the detention of these asylum seekers in the first place, cannot abrogate its responsibility. The situation on Manus Island is turning into a humanitarian disaster and it is a direct result of our governments’ failed policy. As a nation that prides itself on its respect for the rule of law and its globally responsible citizenship, we must find a workable and principled solution. It is time for us to deal with the issue of asylum seekers and refugees according to this nation’s proud tradition and the best nature of its citizens. We can do a whole lot better, just as we did welcome “those who’ve come across the seas” after the wars in Europe and in Southeast Asia. The concern for maritime border security does not have to make us into a mean-spirited people. This is not who our First Peoples are, nor should it be the characterisation of all Australians today. The policy of offshore detention has cost Australia dearly. But it has cost the detainees and their families even more. I appeal to the government and political leaders to act in accordance with our honourable tradition. It is time to find an alternative and unconscionable solution, including accepting New Zealand’s offer of resettlement and bringing the remaining detainees on Manus Island to Australia. Those who are not refugees can be held here in secure detention until they are returned home. Those refugees accepted for entry to the US can migrate when their vetting processes are complete. The other refugees need to be able get on with their lives here in safety. People seeking asylum are some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. I urge the Australian Government to honour its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.” Source: https://parracatholic.org/closure-of-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ More on Catholic Social Teaching Concerning Asylum Seekers & Refugees The basic teachings concerning refugees are explained here. Teachings concerning migration are explored here.
Pacific Bishops meeting in Auckland in August 2017 declared: “As Bishops of the Pacific, the place of the sea in the lives of the peoples we serve was a central focus of our meeting. Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many of our peoples the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood. In solidarity with them, Psalm 107 resonates in our hearts: ‘those that do business in the great waters, they behold the world of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.’” Gathering as the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, they highlighted care of the sea and concern for West Papua. The Federation brings together Catholic Bishops Conferences from island nations across the Pacific Ocean. Bishops conferences from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand and CEPAC (the rest of the Pacific) are members. Care for Pacific Ecology Visiting communities affected by climate change, the Bishops observed the destruction of shorelines. On the other hand, they praised “the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats”. Furthermore, the Bishops held up the ‘blue economy’ as a model that respects sustainability and looks beyond short-term economic windfalls. Concern for West Papua The Bishops also focussed on the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua. They did not, however, express a view on independence. Instead they called for quality education, access to jobs and training, and respect for land titles. Furthermore, they ask for “clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce.” Nonetheless, they saw hope in efforts for dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Read the Pacific Bishops Statement Here is the full statement of the Pacific Bishops: [gview file=”https://social-spirituality.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FCBCO-Satement-Bishops-Urge-Care-for-Sea.pdf”]
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Auckland in New Zealand supports the Living Wage Movement. They have worked together with others in New Zealand since 2013 for a wage that is sufficient to allow a family to live in dignity and participate in society. New Zealand law sets a minimum hourly wage rate, but the movement demonstrates that the rate is inadequate. Living Wage Week This information leaflet from the Auckland Justice and Peace Commission raises awareness of the issues in time for Living Wage Week 2016. In it Bishop Patrick Dunn explains the importance of the issue.
In this address to the Pacific Partnership for Human Development in December 1988, Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North in New Zealand, sets out clearly the position of Catholic Social Teaching regarding social sin and structures of sin. He systematically addresses the following claims: Evil exists not only in the choices individuals make but also in the social structures and economic systems which result from our choices: Structures and systems have a life of their own over and above, and even independent of, the life and the powers of the individuals within them; Because the evil that becomes enshrined in structures and systems is over and above what can be attributed to individuals, the way to counter that evil is different from how one goes about changing individuals; Changing oppressive structures and systems requires the methods of confrontation; The Church, by reason of its commitment to the oppressed, must be involved in confronting and changing oppressive structures and systems. Bishop Cullinane concludes that both individual persons and structures need to change. He does not agree that confrontation is the only way to change structures, and prefers methods that are consistent with the freedom of heart and mind that they seek to achieve. He says: “In practice, the Church acts sometimes as a counter-culture and sometimes as a leaven, subject to all that is most human. But whatever the method that is most appropriate in the circumstances, the obligation to challenge social sin and sinful structures is unambiguous.” Read the full address here Bishop (now Emeritus) Cullinane’s writing and speaking about social justice, social sin and structures of sin, are an important contribution to the local social teachings of the Pacific region. A number of his writings, including this classic piece, can be accessed at the website of the Palmerston North Diocese.
The Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, meeting in Noumea, expressed concern about climate change saying: Of particular concern to us are rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and unusual rainfall patterns. These are affecting many of our communities in a harmful way. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels. Examples from this part of the world include the Carteret Islands, Fead Islands, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Mortlock Islands, Nukumanu Islands, the Tokelau Islands, and Tuvalu. As representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Australia, CEPAC (the Pacific Island nations), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they came from a multitude of island nation States spread throughout the Pacific. Read their statement here