Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries
asylum from persecution.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 14
The goal of current asylum policy appears to be that no unvisa-ed
person will land in Australia ... The government argues that the
correctness of such a goal justifies [its] measures. The argument
that the end justifies the means is the antithesis of morality.
Mark Raper SJ
Every possible effort should be made to ensure that [migration]
may bring benefit to the immigrant's personal, family and social
life, both for the country to which he goes and the country from
which she leaves. In this area much depends on just legislation,
in particular with regard to the rights of workers ... the most
important thing is that the person working away from his native
land, whether as a permanent immigrant or as a seasonal worker,
should not be placed at a disadvantage in comparison with other
workers in that society in the matter of working rights. Immigration
in search of work must in no way become an opportunity for financial
or social exploitation.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens #23
Australia is prepared to give some place to morality in its public
policy abroad, using the vocabulary of human rights, but it resists
the application of other human rights principles to its own laws
The worst position for the church would be to continue sitting
on the fence. Such a lack of courageous leadership would further
erode the church's authority on all the great moral issues of today.
I have learned over many years that one way [people] avoid public
responsibility is to remain silent.
Hope is not optimism. Optimism expects that things will get better.
Hope is a virtue grounded in suffering. It is a grace that gives
strength. Hope is a promise that takes root in the heart and is
a guide to an unknown future. "Those who sow in tears will
sing when they reap" (Psalm 125). The challenge for the pastoral
worker is to search for and find the seeds of hope, to allow them
to grow, to fan the feeble spark into a flame. Hope is what enables
us to live fully in the present moment. our role is to help change
a refugee camp from something to survive in to a time and place
Mark Raper SJ
I think that the world will not be converted to the heavenly hope
of Christianity if first Christianity does not convert itself to
the hope of the world.
Teilhard de Chardin SJ
When is the moral life of a country, town, a community, a political
system, is on the skids, the slide shows up in the language.
The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people
of this age, especially those who are afflicted in any way, these
are the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the
followers of Christ.
Gaudium et Spes #1
Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our
mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry
with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity.
Racism can, will and must be defeated.
UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan
Much of the problem comes from one simple fact: we don't believe
refugees…In other words, 'the culture of disbelief' can make us
deaf to the genuine cries for protection. We must allow their cries
of pain to be heard.
Lena Barrett, JRS Europe
For those who've come across the seas we've boundless plains to
Australian National Anthem
Action is my domain. It is not what I say but what I do that matters.
When we consider our response to refugees and asylum seekers, what
is at stake is the right to live in community. The first point of
reference for action is the human person rather than the interests
of states of national security. The person comes before the state.
This is grounded in a vision of human dignity: The human person
created in the image of God.
Australian Social Justice Council
All human beings are limbs of the same body. God created them from
the same essence. If one part of the body suffers pain, then the
whole body is affected. If you are indifferent to this pain, you
cannot be called a human being.
We must choose carefully how we treat the stranger among us, because
our choice has serious implications for the stranger, but also for
Hospitality conjures up the context of guests, visitors, putting
on meals, providing lodging, making the stranger feel 'at home'
in our home - enlarging our home to make that wider 'at homeness'
Brendan Byrne SJ
Surely the only way to learn about the hope of a refugee is to
listen to her. Our biggest temptation on seeing the distress of
the refugees in Karagwe or Fungnido Camp, or in a city like Johannesburg
or Nairobai, is to begin projects, to give material things, to decide
en masse what the refugees need. They often arrive in exile without
shoes, with only one torn shirt, hungry, without a clear plan. But
they did not undergo this experience in order to get a shirt or
shoes. Their human experience calls for respect. They are traumatised
by violence, lonely, rejected, exhausted in body certainly, but
also exhausted by losing their place in a stable society, and sometimes
feeling guilty about what they did in order to survive. They want
to be understood, to be heard. Their frequent question is, 'Why
is God doing this to me?' They have a right to ask this question.
But it cannot be asked unless someone listens. This is our primary
role, to listen to the questions, to the longing and fundamental
need of the refugees.
Mark Raper SJ
The presence of massive global suffering and the mass migrations
of peoples have brought to centre stage the reality of the others
and the different. If then, in this context we bring this to the
God at the centre of our believing what happens? The God revealed
at the heart of our Christian tradition there is above all 'other'
and 'different.' In the Hebrew Scriptures, God is revealed as totally
Other and refuses to be categorised and imaged: 'I AM WHO I AM,'
God tells Moses. The Holy One so named is a vibrant, dynamic, living
presence. This is not a divine otherness of distance and disinterest,
but an otherness that is in powerful, personal relationship and
solidarity with the oppressed and is intent on their liberation:
I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have
heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know
their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them.. Exodus
This is a God at once totally other and very near. Such a God will
not be domesticated by our needs but will come to meet us in the
place of oppression and invite us into relationship and into the
work of liberation.
When we seek to find a new justice for our time when there is such
fear of the other, there is a powerful, transforming invitation
for us. There is an invitation to 'Welcome the stranger,' to welcome
those who are 'other.' In making room for their stories to come
to be, we grow in the capacity to welcome and rejoice in difference.
Another part of this same invitation is to grow in a capacity to
welcome God as 'Other.'
Patricia Fox RSM
Francois Ponchaud tells us that the Khmer Rouge lived out their
corrupted or 'popular' animist conviction that fate rules human
lives, and that conversion or change of heart is impossible. They
destroyed people in order to bring about social change, believing
that people could not change or be changed. The genocide in Rwanda
shows us that this mistake is not confined to a single instance,
nor to poor formation in one religious tradition. if we do not permit
conversion, or allow for forgiveness, reconciliation is avoided
and suffering prolonged. By contrast, the Gospel highlights a victim
who is innocent but wrongly accused - and who has overcome violence.
We are invited to identify that Victim, and to invite others to
do so. Is it too much to ask, given the fear-driven mandate of the
recent election, how about we limit our indecency to our treatment
of adults, ensuring that never again are kids put in the line of
batons and tear gas in the name of boarder protection, as they were
in Woomera last Easter?
Frank Brennan SJ
God spoke to Moses and said, "I made my covenant with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob to give them the land of Canaan, the land they lived
in as strangers. And I have heard the groaning of my people whom
the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.
Say therefore to the Israelites, "I am the Lord, and I will free
you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery
to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm ... I will take
you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I
am the Lord your God."
We are not unlike the lawyer whose dialogue with Jesus frames the
parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
When we ask only for simple legal solutions, we effectively exclude
the strangers in our midst from the communion table of fellowship
in God's household. We treat them as impediments to our own progress
instead of seeing them as opportunities for redeeming and reconciling
discipleship. Even worse, we stereotype them. We use harmful labels--such
as illegal aliens--to effectively preclude our ever having to consider
them as members of our neighbourhoods and congregations.
The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to understand that
violence towards those who are the least powerful among us can take
the form of legislative acts or of human indifference and disconnection.
Jesus asks that we who would be good disciples be good neighbours,
be willing to think and act beyond what has ordinarily been expected.
This is the message of the incarnation itself and the meaning behind
the message when Jesus tells the lawyer to "go and do likewise."
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