Our reputation ‘shattered’
Behaviour over refu gees has shattered Australia’s reputation as a generous, compassionate country, says Archbishop Carroll (pictured).
In his Christmas message, the archbishop, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said: “Recent statements and events, particularly in regard to asylum seekers and refugees, have shattered that reputation. Perhaps they should also shake our conviction about ourselves.”
Australians needed to do some soul-searching, he said, particularly in light of the recent election and the issues it was fought over.
The election had taken place “in a moral vacuum”.
In its wake, Australia needed to reassert its historic compassion regarding those fleeing persecution and terror and let it be known that we remain a tolerant, humane country.
The archbishop said he understood people’s apprehension in the face of terrorism. But, while it was right that Australia exercise legitimate self-defence and seek to control the number of
people coming to Australia and how they arrived, very few rights are absolute.
“The rights of others, especially those with basic human needs, must also be recognised,” he said. “I have the right to say who comes into my home and eats at my table, but what of the starving person who collapses at my door? Do I shut it in his face?”
Narrow self-interest and fear did not lend themselves to objective discussion, he said.
Australia needed to rise above these if it was to help solve the world’s refugee problem and provide an adequate response to terrorism.