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Refugee situations: "a serious offence against god" ...Pope

Following is the report from Zenit:

The Holy Father, from his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square, addressed the faithful who had assembled there for the noon Angelus, reminding them of the celebration today of Trinity Sunday and of the forthcoming World Day of Refugees.

He noted that "the unity and the trinity of God is the first mystery of the Catholic faith. We reach this at the end of the entire path of revelation, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in His incarnation, passion, death and resurrection. From the summit of the 'holy mountain', which is Christ, we contemplate the first and last horizon of the universe and of history: the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"God is not solitude, but perfect communion. From being God communion derives the vocation of all of mankind to form one great family, in which different races and cultures meet and enrich each other reciprocally."

Pope John Paul then turned to the celebration this coming Friday, June 20, of the World Day of Refugees. He said that in the light of communion "every situation in which persons or groups of people are forced to flee their own land to seek refugee elsewhere is a serious offense against God and all men."

He underscored that "in the world nearly half of all refugees are children and young people. Many of them do not attend school, they lack basic goods, they live in refugee camps or even in detention." The Pope then called on "the international community to commit itself to taking care of not only the symptoms but above all the causes of the problem: that is, to prevent conflicts by promoting justice and solidarity in every sphere of the human family."

Meanwhile in Australia yesterday independent Catholic lobbyist, the Australian Political Ministry Network (PolMin), called on the Federal Attorney-General, The Hon Daryl Williams AM, QC, MP, to request the appointment of additional Federal Court Judges to deal with the backlog of asylum visa cases arising from last yearŐs High Court decision that the Refugee Review Tribunal had unfairly dealt with the claims from two asylum seekers.

This is the text of the PolMin media release:

"It is the right of each asylum seeker to have his or her case dealt with by through the legal process. However, this right evokes another right, namely, the right to have his or her case dealt with within a reasonable period of time", Mr James McGillicuddy PolMinŐs spokesperson said today.

"The decision of the Federal Government to have each case heard individually, and there are about 5000 cases to be re-heard, means that these asylum seekers will be waiting for many years for an outcome.

"It could be argued that by directing each case to be heard individually the Federal Government is trying to discourage asylum seekers pursuing their right to claim asylum.

"This whole situation can be easily resolved if the Federal Attorney General requests the appointment of more Federal Judges to deal specifically with these 5000 cases. Section 6(1)(a) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 allows the appointment of Federal Court Judges on commission. In this case the commission could be for them to deal specifically with this backlog, and when completed the commission would cease.

"PolMin calls on the Attorney General to have an additional 15 Federal Court judges with specific commissions to work through this backlog of cases", Mr McGillicuddy concluded.

The Australian Political Ministry Network Ltd (PolMin) is a national independent membership organisation committed to bringing about systemic change in Australian society through the influencing of public policy for the common good in accordance with the principles of Catholic social teaching.

Zenit | PolMin

17 Jun 2003