By Paul Dobbyn
BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has made an unequivocal call to Australia’s politicians to examine their “hearts and consciences” on the issue of ongoing cruelty to asylum seekers, particularly on Papau New Guinea’s Manus Island.
During an interview last Monday on an ABC Four Corners program, The Pope’s Revolution, interviewer Kerry O’Brien asked Archbishop Coleridge (pictured) what Pope Francis might think if he was to visit Manus Island.
“I think he would be appalled,” he said.
“Just recently Australia’s bishops put out a very strong but measured statement on this very point.
“I think Pope Francis would subscribe to their statement which said the current policy, supported by both sides of politics, is morally unacceptable and shames our country”.
The Archbishop’s comments came as the archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission announced it had joined with other Catholic organisations to host a World Refugee Day Prayer Service.
Titled “A Movement of the Heart”, the prayer service will be held in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, on Friday, June 20, at 6.30 pm.
“We will pray that the law of love which Jesus proclaimed will sweep away the brutal and mean-spirited laws which have no respect for the dignity of those seeking asylum in Australia,” CJPC executive officer Peter Arndt said.
Archbishop Coleridge also said in the June 2 Four Corners program “what puzzles is that these politicians are not themselves cruel people, quite the contrary, but they are presiding over a policy which has to be named cruel”.
He also noted the Australian policy “dehumanises asylum seekers”.
“That’s the heart of the problem and has to stop,” he said.
“We call on politicians to examine their own consciences and search their own hearts.
“They must do the right thing not only by those seeking refuge but by Australia as a nation.”