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How can the baptised claim to welcome Christ if they close the door to the foreigner who comes knocking?   (Pope John Paul II)

Today, Bishop William Morris, acting Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, urged Australia to receive the 430 people stranded on the Tampa, while their appeals for asylum are investigated.

He said, “ ‘Mateship’ does not apply only to Australians; we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live.  We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences.  ‘Loving our neighbour’ has global dimensions in an interdependent world.”
“We have a special duty to extend hospitality to those in need or danger.  We remember too that Jesus himself was forced to flee his country of birth and to seek asylum elsewhere.  Jesus was an asylum seeker and he continues to be present to us in the people seeking asylum in Australia today”.

“There is an impression that the Australian people overwhelmingly support the tough stand taken by the government and supported by the opposition; even if this is true, it is time for the major parties to lead the country by showing generosity of spirit and true humanitarian principles towards these fellow human beings.”

“For more than 200 years Australia has been seen as a nation able to provide a safe haven and a future to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing persecution.  In our Centenary of Federation we gladly acknowledge the immense contribution of immigrants to the richness of our multicultural democracy.  Let us continue to reach out compassionately to these people in need.”

“At present there are over 50 000 illegal residents in Australia; people who have come into Australia on working visas and overstayed.  Our infrastructure has coped with these people.  Surely we can cope with four hundred people in need.”

“The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council calls for the immediate rescue of the people on the Tampa and for an international, concerted effort to solve the extremely complex situation of asylum seekers in our area, always keeping humanitarian principles in the forefront”, he concluded.