Refugees Welcome Here

By Matthew Biddle

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn is ready and willing to open its doors to Syrian refugees fleeing persecution, Archbishop Christopher Prowse has declared.

In the wake of the September announcement that an additional 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq will be resettled in Australia, Church leaders around the country have pledged to do their bit in providing accommodation for the refugees.

“The recent awareness in Australia of the Syrian refugees has galvanised the attention of the country and the Catholic communities in this Archdiocese,” Archbishop Christopher said.

“We are wanting to work in total cooperation with existing structures, both within the Church and within the governments of the ACT and NSW, and to work perhaps with other ecumenical groups, to take our share of responsibility for these new migrants who will be coming in over the next period of time.”

The Archbishop said he had already received offers of help from many generous Catholics in the Archdiocese.

“I’ve been encouraged by a number of spontaneous gestures from parishes writing to me saying that they’d like to take on some refugee families,” he said. “What I’m doing at the moment is trying to liaise with our diocesan structures and the government structures to be able to work together to make sure we can do this as best as we possibly can.”

While acknowledging that a commitment to accommodate a refugee family entailed significant sacrifices – both personal and financial – the Archbishop urged the community to consider doing so.

“I would encourage parishes to think seriously about whether they could possibly take on a family or two and to let us know about that as we get some more efficient structures together over the next period of months,” he said.

Last month Pope Francis appealed to every parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family.

“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death on account of war and hunger, and who are traveling toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbours’ to the smallest and abandoned, and to give them a concrete hope,” the Pope said.