Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) calls upon Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to remember that asylum seekers are human beings, not the means to win votes or the way to punish and deter people smugglers.
CRA President, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, expressed shock and disappointment at the new hard-line asylum seeker policy, saying, “What is needed is a long term solution that protects the human rights of all people seeking asylum and treats them with dignity and respect.”
“These people must be desperate to attempt long and hazardous boat journeys,” she said.
Sr Annette called to mind the words of Pope Francis during his recent visit to Lampedusa, the tiny island off Sicily that has become one of the main points of entry into Europe for poor and desperate migrants willing to risk the crossing in overcrowded and unsafe fishing vessels and small boats. Thousands are known to have died over the years and unknown numbers of others are presumed lost without trace.
"The ‘other’ is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs my life and my comfort”, said Pope Francis. “In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business”.
“It is a tragedy that people fleeing persecution and looking for safety are dying at sea,” said Sr Annette, “but the solution is not to close Australia to people in need”.
Perhaps we need to join in the prayer of Pope Francis, said Sr Annette.
We beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!
21 July 2013
(Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. Our membership comprises more than 180 congregations of over 8,000 Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.)
For enquiries or more information please contact:
Suzette Clark rsc
CRA Justice Network Coordinator
043 9710 218