I RESPOND to the letter “Critical issues”, from The Catholic Leader of March 22.
I acknowledge that the question of asylum seekers and refugees is a complex issue for Australians.
The UNHCR says that there are now 50 million refugees in the world, of which it has processed 12 million.
Sadly when the UNHCR asked countries to accommodate these people only 78,000 places were offered.
So a legitimate process is not working.
Stopping the boats is a good thing.
That is what I now call the first phase of our handling the crisis.
However, we now have people who have been waiting in overseas refugee camps for many years.
If you have been waiting for so long you might become desperate.
I have been involved in helping one Sri Lankan family who were in a camp for over 10 years in India and, in desperation, came by boat. I believe that we have finished the first phase and now we need to examine and find a way to conduct what I term the second phase of this issue.
We have these people who came out of desperation.
It is unrealistic to send them back for 92 per cent of refugees are found to be legitimate.
Let us as Catholics embrace the ideas of Mercy and, in the Year of Mercy from December 2015 to November 2016, welcome those refugees who are in offshore centres.
Malcolm Fraser’s government welcomed 60,000 Vietnamese in three years – let us show mercy, a just manner and compassion to those in Australian Government-funded detention centres.
And reveal how we as a Catholic people of God can show true mercy to our troubled and very sad refugees and asylum seekers.