Archbishop Fisher asks government to prioritise Christian refugees

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The Archbishop of Sydney has called on the Australian government to increase its intake of refugees and to prioritise the needs of Christians as the crisis in Europe escalates.

In his homily at St Mary’s Cathedral on 6 September, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP asked “that the overall refugee intake be very substantially increased and that particular preference be given to persecuted Christians from Syria and Iraq and other religious minorities who have nowhere else to go”.

“We should also keep in mind the minorities within the Muslim community in these countries who are persecuted by Islamists and other Muslims.”

Archbishop Fisher asked Christians to remember their “persecuted brethren and all those of any faith fleeing persecution, war and danger, in their prayers”.

“We cannot leave this to government alone,” he said.

He went on to commit the resources of archdiocesan welfare agencies, parishes, religious communities and families to support refugees fleeing Europe.

“I am seeking a meeting with Syrian Catholic community leaders and the leaders of Church welfare agencies and parishes to discuss what might be done locally to provide housing in families, parishes and convents, and to provide welfare assistance, healthcare, employment services and friendship to traumatised newcomers from the Middle East,” he said.

“We are keen to locate our efforts within those of other Christian leaders to see how we can aid those most in need.”

Archbishop Fisher said the refugee crisis had been “sparked in large part by the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians – the worst persecution of Christians in all of history”.

He said an estimated 100,000 Christians are martyred each year.

“No wonder people are fleeing.”

While it was difficult to know how to respond, “what we can’t do morally is look on paralysed or look away as little boys are drowned and frightened faithful struggle to scale razor wire fences”.

“The sights of such distress should galvanise us into action. We must do what we can to help.”

The archbishop called on Catholics to respond generously, “knowing that other Australians will join with us as they have so often done in the past”.