“The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) welcomes the announcement by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton that the Government will offer those on Manus Island and Nauru a one-off deal to resettle in the United States of America.”
“The ACMRO is grateful to the USA for accepting to resettle asylum seekers and opening its doors and welcoming those who have been awaiting settlement after many years of detention.”
“The ACMRO, however, is disappointed that Australia did not take the step of settling at least some of those on Manus Island or Nauru in Australia, showing other nations that we are accepting our fair share of the current refugee crisis. Continue reading →
The announcement by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York that Australia will maintain its humanitarian refugee intake at 18,750 from mid-2018 is to be welcomed, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv said today.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who also attended the summit, reminded those present that, ‘The primary cause of today’s refugee and migrant crisis is man-made: namely, wars and conflicts’, the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees said.
‘The solution to the refugee crisis is not simply accepting refugees who are fleeing their country, but promoting peace in their homes so that they do not have to leave in the first place.’
‘To this end, we are encouraged by the Prime Minister’s pledge in providing an additional 130 million dollars in support of peace building and assistance to refugees.’
‘Australia, which has had a long tradition of welcoming and resettling refugees throughout its history, can be more generous and humane towards asylum seekers and refugees.’ Continue reading →
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, says Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv.
Speaking ahead of Migrant and Refugee Sunday on 28 August 2016, the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees drew attention to the example set by Pope Francis on his way back to the Vatican from the Greek Island of Lesbos in April this year, ‘he brought with him 12 Syrian refugees, all of whom are Muslim and had their homes destroyed by war’.
‘This is the international context for this year’s Migrant and Refugee Sunday, which will be celebrated on 28 August in Australia. Although we are far removed from the crisis, we are challenged to open our hearts to the sufferings of others.
‘Compassion – which literally means to suffer with – is the hallmark of Christianity. In keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father has chosen as its theme: Migrants and Refugees challenge us: The Response of the Gospel of Mercy.’ Continue reading →
The decision of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal is a welcome sign of hope for those currently in detention on Manus Island, Fr Maurizio Pettenà, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, said today.
“This ruling is important because it highlights the fact that governments have human rights obligations under domestic and international laws.
We also welcome the decision of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, to close the Manus Island detention centre as a result of the ruling.
The Australian Government’s response to people seeking asylum should first and foremost focus on respecting their human dignity.
I urge the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, to use this opportunity to show leadership and act to end indefinite mandatory offshore detention.
If the Australian Government insists on returning people to their country of origin or moving people to other countries as a result of this decision, the Government must ensure no asylum seeker is at risk of persecution or violence.
The Catholic Church opposes mandatory indefinite detention and offshore detention, these policy responses do not respect the dignity of people seeking our refuge.
Whilst Governments have a responsibility to manage migration flows into countries, the Australian Government’s approach is harsh and needs to change; the dignity of the human person must always come first.”
In response to the decision of the High Court that it is legal to send and detain asylum seekers in off-shore detention places, some Christian Communities have offered the right of sanctuary in their churches, as a solution to prevent these people from being sent to Nauru.
As an immediate response I wish to say that this is a very generous offer. It shows the care and concern these Christian Communities have towards those most in need and suffering persecution. This has been met with the support from many people who are appalled and shamed by the High Court decision.
It is sad, though, that since the announcement by the Anglican Dean of Brisbane the Reverend Dr Peter Catt, attention has drastically shifted to focus on the offer of sanctuary rather than the situation of asylum seekers or refugee claimants themselves. Continue reading →
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has voiced its concern regarding Australia’s detention of children and their families.
ACSJC Chairman Bishop Christopher Saunders said: “That asylum seekers, including children, have now been sent to Manus should set the alarm bells ringing. Having witnessed first-hand the conditions in Australia’s detention centres, and following Amnesty reports of the crisis on Nauru, we hold grave concerns for their wellbeing.”
The ACSJC holds that the tactical decision to excise Australia from its own migration zone does not relieve us of our obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Covenant on the Rights of the Child.
“No child should be detained indefinitely in any onshore or offshore facility. No person should be detained indefinitely in an environment we know causes long-term harm”, Bishop Saunders said.
“It is hard to fathom the Government’s expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on indefinite offshore detention. This ‘no advantage’ policy is sure to cause harm but it cannot guarantee its policy objective of deterring desperate people.
“We remind all Australians that it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia.
“We oppose the policy of prolonged detention of asylum seekers but we are particularly concerned about its effects on vulnerable people, especially children.
“We call on the Australian Government to release immediately all children and their families from immigration detention whether that is on the mainland or in these offshore camps”, Bishop Saunders concluded.
For further information:
Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman, ACSJC, Tel: 0418 260 155
John Ferguson, National Executive Officer, ACSJC, Tel: 02 8306 3499
To mark Australia Day, the Catholic Bishops Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development calls upon political parties to work towards a common approach to asylum seekers, so that human beings do not become pawns in a political argument. Further, and more immediately, to honour the Australian sense of justice and compassion, there must be a defined limit to incarceration in detention centres for people who are not criminals. The Bishops are calling on the Government to limit detention to three months.
Four of the Bishops who signed this statement minister directly to asylum seekers in immigration detention centres located in their dioceses. Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop in Sydney, supported the opinions of the other Bishops who have direct involvement in the pastoral care of asylum seekers in detention. “Prolonged and indefinite detention in these facilities can only produce psychological damage”, he said. Continue reading →
23 December 2011
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office today urged both political parties to show moral leadership over the Christmas period with regard to policy debates on asylum seekers and refugees.
Director of the ACMRO Fr Maurizio Pettenà CS expressed the view that people seeking asylum need to be processed in countries who are signatories to the UN Refugee Convention and who can assure them of the opportunity to rebuild their lives in dignity.
“Richer countries like Australia have a moral duty to do more to help the world’s refugees who are mostly hosted by poorer nations” he said.
“Christmas reminds us that it is in giving that we receive. This applies even more so to how much we give to those who seek asylum. Increasing the humanitarian program is an appropriate outcome that both political parties can agree on.” Continue reading →
Bishop Joe Grech and Fr Maurizio Pettena concelebrating Mass with Bishops and Priests in Sydney, May, 2010.
By Fr Maurizio Pettena CS
Bishop Joe is still very much a holy presence in my life. I remember very vividly last year on the 23rd of December when he called me at about 10pm at night and asked me what I was doing.
He said he wasn’t feeling too well. He kept feeling worse, and the doctor recommended that he be hospitalised. On Christmas Eve, he was.
He rang me as he was being admitted to the hospital and asked me if I could come and be with him. A few hours later, I was there in Melbourne at St Vincent’s private hospital where I found him in his usual joking mood.
The doctor came in, amused by the jovial character and positive in his outlook. Continue reading →
Yesterday, I stood in front of the Nativity scene that is displayed in front of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and considered it for a moment. The Christmas story, as always during December, is much on my mind and in my prayer this week. Even David Jones just down the road has a beautiful display in its windows of puppets re-enacting the Christmas story, complete with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the three kings and the angels. A huge group of tourists had gathered to watch the mechanical puppets, taking photos and in some way, celebrating what Christmas is about. Continue reading →
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) today expressed sorrow over the tragedy which has resulted in the deaths of a possible 160 people, mostly thought to be asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iran.
This time last year, a similar tragedy occurred when just short of safety, a boat carrying 50 Middle Eastern asylum seekers crashed off the rocks of Christmas Island. Continue reading →
Monsignor John J. Murphy, former Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office concluded his journey here on earth, Monday, November 14, 2011. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office joins the many people who mourn and offer prayers for this truly good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ and of the Church. Continue reading →