Bishops for boat people. Pity about the Copts

Since Wednesday last week, Christians have undergone an astonishing amount of persecution in Egypt. Churches are being firebombed, clergy and religious  harassed and attacked, and Christian schools and businesses burned.

But things being what they are, instead the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBA) has released a very nice statement on the tragedy of asylum seekers and refugees in our midst.

Bishop Hanna, the author of the statement, reminds us that St John said, ‘How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?’ 

And here’s how Bishop Hanna says we can all help: 

  • Pray for ‘Faith and Hope’, use the homily ideas and prayer petitions available in the resource
  • Provide your community with clear and accurate information
  • Promote Catholic Social Teaching on Mandatory Immigration Detention
  • Get involved in the End Child Detention campaign

Don’t those words ‘in the resource’ tell you everything you need to know? There’s an expensive printed package of paper with nice colour photos and posters arriving any second now, full of ‘homily ideas’ and ‘prayer petitions’ and photos of people behind barbed wire. (This has justified someone’s salary at the ACBC.) 

What’s also nice is that none of these involve having anything to do with your actual migrants or refugees. We can just do some fun political stuff, always so helpful in an election year. 

Now I am a good Catholic around 25% of the time, which means that I will take Bishop Hanna’s second point only, and ‘provide my community with clear and accurate information.’ I am going to do this by referring my readers to what Bishop Hanna’s upline manager said about the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, when he issued this statement back in October 2012 (emphasis added).

“Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another’s welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties … 

…Certainly every state has the right to regulate migration and to enact policies dictated by the general requirements of the common good, albeit always in safeguarding respect for the dignity of each human person … while some migrants attain a satisfactory social status and a dignified level of life through proper integration into their new social setting, many others are living at the margins, frequently exploited and deprived of their fundamental rights, or engaged in forms of behaviour harmful to their host society. The process of integration entails rights and duties, attention and concern for the dignified existence of migrants; it also calls for attention on the part of migrants to the values offered by the society to which they now belong.

In this regard, we must not overlook the question of irregular migration, an issue all the more pressing when it takes the form of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of women and children. These crimes must be clearly condemned and prosecuted, while an orderly migration policy which does not end up in a hermetic sealing of borders, more severe sanctions against irregular migrants and the adoption of measures meant to discourage new entries, could at least limit for many migrants the danger of falling prey to such forms of human trafficking. There is an urgent need for structured multilateral interventions for the development of the countries of departure, effective countermeasures aimed at eliminating human trafficking, comprehensive programmes regulating legal entry, and a greater openness to considering individual cases calling for humanitarian protection more than political asylum.”

The Pope was and is no fool. What a pity the ACBC don’t spend a bit more time with their ears tuned to Vatican Radio, rather than the ABC?

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City. She does not take the ACBC terribly seriously, but thankfully under canon law she doesn’t have to. Kudos to ‘Numbers’ at catallaxyfiles.com for starting this argument.

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