Turn back the votes!
An extract from Kevin Rudd's 'Faith in Politics', October 2006:
"Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific Solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches. “
And from last week’s London Tablet:
Lampedusa, a tiny Mediterranean island, welcomes thousands of tourists every year. But another few thousand each year risk their lives to reach the island. They set off on flimsy, often unseaworthy, craft, frequently paying traffickers thousands of pounds, and some die of thirst on the boat or drown in the high seas.
On Monday last week, Pope Francis chose Lampedusa as the destination of his first pastoral visit outside Rome. He cast a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the waters outside the main port, dignifying the discarded lives and drawing attention to their unmarked deaths.
Some of those who make it to the island are economic migrants seeking a better life; they may already have family in Europe and work lined up. Others are asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries and seeking refugee status, which guarantees them – at least in theory, the protection of the international community.
The island’s immigrant reception centre, built for 850 people, by 2009 was found to be holding 2,000 people. According to Mario Marazziti, a founder member of the Sant’Egidio Community, the islanders are “an incredible example of humanity”, turning up with blankets, clothing and food when another boatload arrives in the middle of the night. “It’s like a regular earthquake,” he says.
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The exhausted arrivals are, of course, the successful ones among those trying to scale the walls of what one umbrella group has dubbed “Fortress Europe”. United Against Racism, a coalition of 560 NGOs, maintains a list of men, women and children known to have died trying to reach Europe since 1993.
To date, it contains 17,306 names, though that is bound to be an underestimate. “God knows how many other deaths there have been,” comments James Stapleton, spokesman for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Rome. “We hope Pope Francis’ words will put pressure on EU states. Italy, Spain and Malta have discussed whose responsibility it is to help when a boat has been in trouble … there is a desperate desire in some states to take as little responsibility as possible.” The Tablet 20 July 2013, p.11
And from a Eucharistic Prayer some of us prayed at Mass last weekend:
“Grant that all the faithful of the Church, looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, may constantly devote ourselves to the service of the Gospel. Keep us attentive to the needs of all, that sharing their joy and hope, we may faithfully bring them the good news of salvation and go forward with them along the way of your Kingdom.”
Both major Political Parties are engaged in seeking the best vote-catching position before the coming election. They both seem intent on out-doing each other on a moral race to the bottom. We all value our vote and our voice in the affairs of our nation. Once we have voted will we want to re-consider when we see what our leaders are up to? Perhaps we could contact them prior to the election to let them know our concerns, rather than wishing later on that we had “turned back the votes!”
Jul 28, 2013