The Synod of the Diocese of Sydney has passed two motions on Iraq and supported the Archbishop’s call for refugee limits to be expanded to cope with Christians and religious minorities fleeing the region.

The first resolution expressed “its dismay at the horrific persecution of Christians throughout Iraq and Syria in recent months” and solidarity and support for those affected.

In particular it mentioned the witness of Canon Andrew White of St George's Anglican Church, Baghdad and committed to pray for Christians affected.

The motion asked people to share reports of what is happening in the troublespots and encouraged “all Christians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East to stand firm in the faith, to proclaim the Gospel, to trust in God, who is our constant strength and refuge, and to pray”. 

The second motion built on a call earlier this year from Archbishop Glenn Davies for the Federal Government to raise the overall refugee intake, because of the crisis.

The government has set aside 4,400 places in the Special Humanitarian Program for middle eastern refugees, however the total ceiling for all refugees remains at 13,700.

Archbishop Davies wrote to the Prime Minister asking for the cap to be lifted.

“Given that boat arrivals, under your government, have slowed considerably, a level of 20,000 would not be unsustainable and would reflect a country whose values include compassion for the vulnerable and dispossessed.” the Archbishop said in his letter.

The motion supported the Archbishops call. 

“We commend the Federal Government on its actions to date” said Bishop Robert Forsyth, of South Sydney “But noting that other Western democracies including Germany, Norway and Sweden have increased their overall intake of asylum-seekers in order to accept additional numbers of Iraqi and Syrian refugees, (Synod) calls on the Federal Government to temporarily increase the places available in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Special Humanitarian Program to allow for additional resettlement of Christians and other persecuted groups of people from Iraq and Syria, and to take any necessary steps to process all applications for asylum in Australia as expeditiously as possible.”

“We must open the doors of our hearts and of our country to those who are suffering, Christians and otherwise.” Bishop Forsyth told the Synod.