The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2013–2014 calls on the Christian community and all Australians to stand in solidarity with our neighbours around the world who are living in conditions of extreme poverty. They say that five groups in particular need our support: people who face severe hunger; people who are victims of disaster; Indigenous peoples; people with disability; and refugees and displaced people. The circumstances they face remind us of our obligation to help the world’s poorest and to work to combat poverty wherever it is found. Download the statement and related resources here.
As politicians swing into election mode the Catholic Bishops of Australia are encouraging people not to vote according to self-interest but with a view to the common good. In their pastoral letter they draw attention to a range of issues such as respect for life, marriage and the family, child protection, poverty, health and education. The needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, refugees and asylum seekers are highlighted. Watch the video here:
In a Message for Australia Day (26 January 2012) the Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has called for more compassionate treatment of asylum seekers. Four of the Bishops who signed this statement minister directly to asylum seekers in immigration detention centres located in their dioceses. They say there must be a limit to how long asylum seekers can be held in immigration detention. Read the full Bishops’ Australia Day call for time limit on detention.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s social networking protocol encourages the use of new media for evangelisation. It stresses the importance of upholding human dignity in the virtual world. Read the protocol here.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has welcomed changes which will allow asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat to live in the community rather than immigration detention centres while their claims are assessed. ACMRO is an office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Read their media release.
World Day of Peace 2018 Message from Pope Francis Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace 2018 focuses on migrants’ and refugees’ search for peace. Hunger or persecution drive some while the possibility of a life in which they can pursue their full human development draws others. All are seeking peace. By contrast, Francis says that those who foment fear of migrants and refugees “are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia.” (n 3) His words certainly ring true here in Australia. Approaching the situation with a contemplative gaze, he sees not a threat, but rather an opportunity to build peace. People on the move remind us that we are one human family sharing a common home. Looking at our world in this manner, we see that migrants and refugees do not arrive “empty handed” (n 3). Rather they bring “their courage, skills, energy and aspirations” and the “treasures of their cultures” thus enriching “the lives of the nations that receive them” (n 3). Again, this is the Australian experience. Welcoming, Protecting & Including Migrants & Refugees Francis advocates a four-fold strategy of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. We know that these are practical and positive strategies. After all, we have done each of them in different measures at different times in Australia. Our experience suggests one word of caution. In our public policy discourse, the word “integration” carries some strong negative connotations, especially for our First Peoples. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities the policy known as “integration” was little better than “assimilation lite.” They were the ones who were expected to integrate into and become part of another culture. Perhaps a better word for what Pope Francis is talking about would be “inclusion.” Being included is being recognised as part of the community, sharing rather than giving up, the treasures of one’s culture of origin. In this way we all become part of something new. Perhaps even a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1), already here and not yet complete? Global Compacts In 2018 two Global Compacts will be negotiated. One will be about migration and the other will concern refugees. They are important because they will provide the framework for policies and programs. Pope Francis and the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development call all Catholics to get involved in this process. They want the Compacts to be “inspired by compassion, foresight and courage” and to advance peace-building (n 5). Hence they offer Twenty Pastoral Action Points which provide a focus for action. Many of the points directly engage current Australian policies and practices. Time for Action in 2018 Communities of faith, social service agencies and social justice groups in Australia are actively working for change. For some it is a longstanding commitment. They are providing practical assistance to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and advocating for changes in policy. Furthermore they are seeking to change the way the community understands the story of people seeking peace and security. While we may already be active, Pope Francis challenges each one of us to consider how we might be involved in 2018. Read the full text Migrants and refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace
“Why should the Australian Government be frightened if New Zealand chooses to act with compassion?” The Catholic Diocese of Auckland Justice and Peace Commission ask the Australian Government to let New Zealand resettle asylum seekers on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Labelling the living conditions of the detainees a “violation of basic human dignity”, the Commission appeal for solidarity and compassion. In doing so they point to Pope Francis’ encouragement not to be afraid of refugees. Furthermore they affirm that Catholic teaching urges us to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable. They urge the Australian government to accept New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s 1 November offer to take into New Zealand 150 refugees from the Manus Island detention camp. Auckland Justice & Peace Commission Statement Read their media release here: . Learn more about Catholic Social Teaching and seeking asylum Basic teachings Inspirational quotes What the Australian Catholic Bishops say