The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has welcomed Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si (On the Care of Our Common Home). Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Conference, welcomed the encyclical, saying he was pleased to see that the letter critiques our weak response to ecological and social issues: “Pope Francis calls on people to seek new ways to understand the economy, condemns our throwaway culture and dependence on technology, and is calling on people to reassess the dignity of humanity and the integrity of creation in finding solutions to the ecological crisis.” He notes that the Pope draws upon bishops’ statements from around the world, including the Australian bishops. Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Jacqui Remond, said Laudato Si’ is a game-changer for the Catholic community and it offers Australians a powerful moral and spiritual imperative for environmental and social action. This encyclical calls on us all to embrace a new lifestyle that respects all of creation, and asks our leaders to commit to effective global agreements. Read the media release
Listen to & Learn from Women The United Nations commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November. To help the Catholic community to get involved, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference issued a statement on violence against women. They say that it has no place in society and call on the whole community to take action. This is the first time that the Australian Bishops have made a statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Their action demonstrates that this is not a ‘women’s issue’ but a concern for all men and women. The Bishops say that the first thing to do is to listen to and learn from women. They offer five other suggestions for action. Six Ways to Act to Stop Violence Against Women The Australian Bishops suggest these ways of supporting action to eliminate violence against women: • Listening to women and learning from women • Learning about the issue of domestic violence • Challenging language that degrades women • Learning to identify and oppose gender harassment and violence in your community • Supporting local women’s programs • Examining how your own attitudes and behaviour might contribute to the problem ACBC Statement on Violence Against Women You can read their full statement here: ACBC Media Release on Eliminating Violence Against Women
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has issued a statement pleading with those in Government and the whole Australian community to have respect for the rights of asylum seekers. They denounce current policies as ‘institutionalised cruelty’, ask for an examination of conscience concerning racism and for an end to the dehumanisation of people in need. Read their statement here.
Bishop Gerard Hanna has criticised the Australian government’s efforts to resettle in Cambodia those asylum seekers found to be refugees after having been intercepted at sea by Australia and sent to have their claims assessed in Nauru. “If the Australian Government is serious about expanding resettlement opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, negotiations should commence with nations who have the resources to support refugees, such as Singapore, Japan, Korea and New Zealand,” he said. Bishop Hanna is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Delegate for Migrants and Refugees.
The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Gerard Hanna, has spoken out against the axing of funding for legal assistance to asylum seekers. “Whenever a person’s life is threatened, it is just and fair that they should be able to make a valid application for protection. The Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme enabled asylum seekers to do this,” Bishop Hanna said. For background, read immigration lawyer Kerry Murphy’s comments here.
Catholic Religious Australia say: “Many people throughout Australia are disturbed by the punitive and harsh policies and conditions to which people seeking asylum in Australia are being subjected. The recent incident on Manus Island and the death of one person and the injury of many highlights the lack of care and dignity in the policies of both the Government and the Opposition and the absence of awareness of their legal and moral responsibilities.” In response they have launched a National Lament which will include: – Making Friday in Lent a day of prayer and penance for people seeking asylum – Continuing this practice after Lent through to the Ascension – Writing to one’s local Federal member and to the Minister, Scott Morrison, expressing our lament for people seeking asylum in Australia – Engaging in a Week of Prayer and Prophetic Presence from Ascension to Pentecost, 1 to 8 June 2014 Download the National Lament Prayer Sheet.
Bishop Gerard Hanna, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Delegate for Migrants and Refugees expressed deep sadness at the death of an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island. A riot at the Australian funded offshore detention facility left dozens of other asylum seekers injured. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office called on the Australian government to ensure each person’s claim for protection is considered under Australian Law by competent independent authorities, with appropriate legal assistance and access to an independent judiciary such as the Refugee Review Tribunal. Read the media release here. How might we move people’s hearts to welcome, rather than seeking to deter, those who seek asylum? What causes us to reject and to marginalize some groups of people?