TOOWOOMBA diocese has welcomed a group of asylum seekers into a Church property following Pope Francis’ call to make better use of disused convents and monasteries to house refugees.
Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin said one of the parishes in the diocese had also rented out a property to a group of men on bridging visas.
“Pope Francis is right when he states that the word ‘solidarity’ is a challenge to us in the West,” Bishop McGuckin said.
“If we have properties available it is good to use them as shelter for some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.
“Many local asylum seekers currently have no work rights and are forced to live on 89 per cent of a Centrelink payment.
“This amounts to just over $200 a week to pay for food, groceries, transport and utilities.
“It is well below the poverty line.”
Bishop McGuckin said parishioners’ social and spiritual support offered to the asylum seekers had been equally important and “a gift for all of us”.
“As members of our Church have got to know and befriend asylum seekers, they have gained a greater understanding of the human rights abuses that have driven them to our shores,” he said.
“For many years voices within our church have been calling on our political leaders to show compassion and respect for the dignity of asylum seekers.
“This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our love and commitment in a very real way in the Toowoomba community.
“We would encourage other people of faith and good will to also reach out to those in need.”