In our last post we wrote about our involvement with the “Love Makes A Way” movement here in Australia in an attempt to speak up for the needs of refugees. (See Protesting Refugee Detention In Australia In The Name Of The One, Who Was A Refugee.) The issue of refugees has now exploded on to the world stage with the numbers of people trying to find refuge in Europe. The New York Times, in a recent editorial entitled Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants, warned European governments not to go down the path that the Australian government has taken. It read in part:
“Some European officials may be tempted to adopt the hardline approach Australia has used to stem a similar tide of migrants. That would be unconscionable.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has overseen a ruthlessly effective effort to stop boats packed with migrants, many of them refugees, from reaching Australia’s shores. His policies have been inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war…”
One Anglican minister has been using his church’s announcement board outside his church to speak up. (See Priest Angers Transfield Over Asylum Seeker Church Signs.) Transfield, the private company running the offshore detention centers, complained to the pastor’s bishop about the signs. The bishop responded, "I endorse that we should not support companies involved in practices that do not protect the vulnerable, as we ourselves have not protected the vulnerable in our care in the past… Australians can't remain spectators on the issue of asylum seekers while so many people are displaced in Europe because of conflict."
The article goes on to say, “Father Bower led a rally in Gosford on August 21 during a visit by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and had a private meeting with the minister about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. He spoke strongly on the subject because "it's what Jesus would do."
We agree it’s what Jesus would do and we continue to meet with others to find ways to respond to this tragic situation. We are planning an evening prayer vigil next month in our church as part of a national effort to seek justice on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people.