Church calls for justice
On the sixth anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s announcement that no person seeking asylum by boat would be resettled in Australia, Catholic Church leaders have repeated calls to bring asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.
The newly elected president of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA), Peter Carroll, has written to the prime minister urging him “to take action to right the wrongs that have been and continue to be perpetrated against asylum seekers”. CRA includes leaders of almost 150 Catholic congregations of sisters, brothers and priests Australia-wide.
“It is a travesty that a country with the opportunities such as Australia fails to respond to the concerns raised by United Nations personnel, the Human Rights Commission, Church Leaders, medical and legal experts, children’s welfare organisations and other highly principled members of the public,” said Fr Carroll, who is also the provincial of the Marist Brothers in Australia.
“There is a clear loss of support for the current model, as indicated by PNG Prime Minister James Marape who wants a timetable to end asylum seeker processing and have all those involved removed from Manus Island.”
Father Malcolm P Fyfe, Vicar General, Catholic Diocese of Darwin, also wrote to the prime minister. “Australia is capable of something a lot savvier and more generous than our current harsh and mean treatment of asylum seekers and refugees,” he said.
“It was back in August 2012 that the expert panel on asylum seekers delivered its report. I believe it is time for another ‘expert panel’ to be set up on cross-party lines to review the situation and to indicate what changes can now be made to the conclusions and outcomes of the earlier report.
“The majority of people I encounter are most uncomfortable with this ongoing reprehensible phenomenon and there is a growing sense that, as Australians, we are better than this.”
About 900 people are still being held on Manus island and Nauru.