The General Synod has urged the government and opposition to revise immigration policy, particularly offshore detention.
A motion moved by Dr Peter Catt from Brisbane and Melbourne Bishop Philip Huggins, recognises ‘the moral complexities of the task’ but says asylum seekers should not be called ‘illegal’, should not be detained for more than three months, and women and children should not be placed in detention facilities.
“The Synod urges Government to work with regional neighbours and the UNHCR to develop a compassionate and workable regional response to refugees and asylum seekers, and to develop immigration policies that are more just and compassionate, so that they can be remembered with pride by future generations of Australians, while appropriately protecting the current generation of Australians” the motion said.
The Rev Peter Lin, who’s parish of Fairfield with Bossley Park, includes the largest number of asylum seekers in Sydney, spoke passionately about both government and churches welcoming refugees.
“We come into contact with many of these frightened and grateful, traumatised and relieved people” Mr Lin said “And whatever we think about how they arrived, they are among us, hurting, vulnerable and powerless in many ways. and as someone at the coalface ministering to them, we not only need to care for them but its important to speak into this sphere as Gods people.”
“Our concern and compassion comes from God himself. We are not simply a group of people but a body of God's people where everything we do is because of God, it is through God and it is for his glory. It is his compassion that compels and drives our compassion for others” Mr Lin said.
“They are amongst us, either in some form of detention or on release, they are in our communities where they still need a lot of care because our experience is that their trauma, confusion, sadness, and pain remain” he said. As well as urging compassion by governments, Mr Lin wants churches ‘to engage further in practical love and care but also in sharing the message of Christ’s love.”
Photo: The Reverend Peter Lin speaks to the Synod