Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has joined other faith leaders in denouncing Australia’s indefinite detention of refugees and asylum-seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.
Bishop Long was a signatory to a statement released by the “Befriend a Child in Detention” organisation, together with Melbourne Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins, Imam Riad Galil, Sheik Abu Omar, Rabbi Shamir Caplan and Rabbi Fred Morgan.
The following is an edited extract of the statement.
There are around 1,650 asylum-seekers and refugees, adults and children, currently in Manus and Nauru. These are people who arrived by boat after 19th July 2013 and are still awaiting resettlement. Many are entering their sixth year in those regional processing centres, and a steady stream of health professionals have articulated concerns about the mental and physical damage sustained by people who have been given little reason to hope for a time when they can establish permanent roots in a community.
These are lives on hold.
In the language of faith communities we say that each of us holds the spark of the transcendent and this informs our common commitment to treating all people with decency, dignity and respect.
This is not merely an ideal, but an intrinsic part of each of our communities, and far from seeing ourselves as imposing this view on the wider community, we see this as a common shared value and indeed one that must find expression in the policies and words of our government.
Our obligation to assist the refugees in Manus and Nauru began when they arrived in 2013. Now, five years later there is still no clear plan for the complete resettlement of this cohort. It is a nightmare for the adults and children in this plight, a self-evident failure to treat this group of people according to the values we ourselves espouse, and an abrogation of responsibility to ensure compassion underpins our deliberations on this issue.
A practical way must be found as soon as possible to resettle the many hundreds of remaining refugees who will not be included in the United States of America and New Zealand refugee resettlement options. We urge our policy-makers to bring this situation to a close.
This article was published by Cath News on the 12th of September 2018.