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Vinnies regrets 'demonising' of nation's needy

A St Vincent de Paul Society discussion paper says Australians' acquiescence to the growing trend to demonise the most needy and disadvantaged demeans us all.

The paper, titled Social Justice is Undermined by Demonisation of the Disadvantaged, was written for the Society by Terry McCarthy, a member of the society's national social justice committee.

Demonisation "reflects most especially on Christians if they allow it to go unchallenged", he says. "The Old and New Testaments tell us of our obligations to defend the needy and disadvantaged.

"In Australia the most destitute and vulnerable, such as indigenous people, refugees and the needy, (including unemployed) people on low incomes, disturb our comfort zones from time to time - and so they should.

"But they deserve our loving compassion, not our derision. For Christians social justice is not an optional extra - "it is an obligation and a responsibility".

St Vincent de Paul Society

Catholic Leader

10 May 2002