Australia's Catholic bishops have called on the government to bring refugees held in island detention centres to the mainland. In a strong appeal Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Bishops' Conference said: "One of the greatest crisis of our time is the condition of people who have fled their countries from war, persecution or poverty and forced to live without a home, without security and often separated from their families. In Australia we endure the shame of expulsion and of the harsh treatment to people seeking our protection and are now held in detention camps on the islands of Nauru and Manus Island off Papua New Guinea. It is time to bring them here."
The Archbishop said: "International agencies are shocked at the conditions in which immigrants live in those structures and the effects that detention has on their health, on the spirit, on self-respect. Some detainees have also written to Pope Francis, who has expressed his deep concern.
"The Australian Catholic Bishops deplore the detention of our brothers and sisters on Nauru and Manus Island. While acknowledging the government's effort to find a solution, we say enough is enough. We ask the government to transfer prisoners to Australia, pending further decisions about their future."
The Bishops "strongly support the campaign to bring them here, in Australia. We strive to ensure the help of our community and Catholic institutions to accommodate and support these refugees when they arrive".
The "Catholic Alliance for asylum seekers" is ready to coordinate with other government organizations and civil society, a contingency plan for the reception on Australian territory of men, women and children currently residing in Nauru and Manus Island.
"While the Jubilee of Mercy is about to conclude, it is time to nurture the works of mercy and to reap the benefits," concludes the Bishops' message.
See also: ICN Monday, August 15, 2016 - Australia: JRS calls for immediate closure of refugee island 'processing centres' www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=30726