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Australian Bishops issue instruction on care of migrants and refugees

Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference President Archbishop Francis Carroll yesterday issued a statement specifying how the Australian Church should go about providing assistance and pastoral care to migrants and refugees.

Titled Statement on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, the document was approved by the Bishops Conference in May 2000 and launched yesterday at Favier House in Canberra.

Archbishop Carroll said: "These people have chosen to call Australia home - it is our duty to help them settle in."

"As Bishops one of our roles is as teachers of the Catholic Faithful," he continued. "This document aims to offer guidance to all people, especially Catholics, in their care for and support of migrant and refugee people."

The document says Catholics should "make every effort to combat discrimination and racist attitudes", and that "both migrants and host communities have a duty to work for integration". It requires bishops to "show special concern" for those not catered for by "ordinary pastoral ministry", including "migrants, exiles and refugees". It emphasises that a common approach is necessary, hence the role of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees.

Archbishop Carroll said: "We cannot forget that behind all the facts and figures on migration that bombard us through the media there are human faces that need caring for."

A PDF version of the statement is available on the bishops' website