The leaders of Christian chuches in Australia have expressed their "grave concern at the passing of legislation to allow for the offshore processing and indefinite detention of asylum seekers," they said in a joint statement released yesterday.
"Core to the Christian faith is the principle of ‘welcoming the stranger’, and Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan guides us as we seek to care for those who are vulnerable and marginalised in society," said the statement by leaders from the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, together with the Salvation Army and others.
"As Christians, we are called to cross the road to help, to not turn away those in need."
The Seventh Forum of the National Council of Churches in Australia in 2010 called on all political parties to meet Australia’s responsibilities by “accommodating and processing in Australia asylum seekers who reach Australian territory”, it continued.
"Australia is an open and hospitable country. Many of our churches grew here as a result of people having fled places of violence or migrating to seek better futures for their families.
"We welcome the commitment of the Government to increase the number of places in our humanitarian program to 20,000 and hope that it will continue to increase the program as the Houston Panel has recommended.
"However, we are deeply troubled by the potential for asylum seekers to suffer adverse mental health consequences and to experience other detrimental impacts as a result of this legislation.
"We are concerned that this damages our credibility and, in particular, our ability to negotiate a humane regional system of protection."
RELEASE IN FULL
Christian leaders express grave concern over new asylum seeker legislation