THE Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2015-16 will challenge Australians to rethink the nation’s response to asylum seekers, especially those who come to Australia by sea.
The statement, entitled “For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers”, will be launched on September 9 in the lead-up to Social Justice Sunday on September 27.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart announced the title and topic for the social justice statement in a recent letter to parishes, schools and congregations.
Archbishop Hart said the title was taken from the second verse of Australia’s national anthem “and reminds us all of how our nation has aspired to be a place of welcome and inclusion”.
“In the social justice statement, Australia’s bishops ask us to re-examine our responses to refugees and asylum seekers,” he wrote.
“The statement reminds us of the nearly 60 million people around the world who are displaced from their homes and of the war and violence devastating countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“When people come to us seeking refuge, can we in conscience respond to them with cruel and self-defeating policies, such as offshore processing and indefinite detention?
“This social justice statement is inspired by the example of Pope Francis on his 2013 visit to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where he met the survivors of a refugee tragedy and mourned and prayed for those who had died.
“Inspired by the example of Pope Francis, Australia’s bishops ask how we can show leadership both here and overseas in forging a humane response to the challenge of refugees.”
The statement can be ordered from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council at the website http://www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au. Phone (02) 8306 3499.