OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Cardinal George Pell urges government to review immigration policies

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Sydney (Fides Service) - “It is time for the government to reconsider its position. The flood of illegal immigrants has dried up and the immigration policy is too tough” Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney said commenting the recent clamorous case of an Australian woman wrongfully deported. Australian citizen Vivian Alvarez was located in a hospice in the Philippines last week by an Australian priest. She had spent the past four years there after being deported from Australia. The case is a cause of great embarrassment for the Australian government whose harsh immigration policy has been criticised. There have been calls for the immigration minister Amanda Vanstone to resign.
The government’s clamp down on illegal immigration, aimed at discouraging this flow, reflects fear of immigration among many Australians. However certain sectors of society and politics which disagree with the government’s treatment of asylum seekers recently proposed that these people be entrusted to organisations such as the Red Cross or religious institutions pending a decision with regard their right of asylum.
Pastoral care for migrants is an important part of the activity of the Catholic Church in Australia and the Catholic Bishops have said that the refugees who reach Australia must be welcomed and given all the respect due to them as human persons. “Australia has vast experience in the field of immigration. It is a country which has offered very many people the opportunity to start a new life ” the Bishops told Fides recently.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/5/2005 righe 24 parole 241)