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Churches celebrate diversity on Refugee and Migrant Sunday

Australia's Catholic Church will celebrate Refugee and Migrant Sunday this weekend, in an effort to thank God for the diversity of peoples in the nation and celebrating this diversity.

A statement from the Bishops' media office in Canberra advises that churches around the nation will have special prayers and liturgies to mark the day. It says many will focus on Pope John Paul II's message entitled: "Migration with a view to peace".

In his message, the Pope says he deeply hopes that every church community, made up of migrants and refugees and those who receive them and drawing inspiration from the sources of grace, "will untiringly engage in the construction of peace".

"If the dream of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees' and migrants' contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more of a universal family and our earth a true common home," he said.

Bishop Joseph Grech, the Chairman of the Bishops Committee for Migrants and Refugees said the Church, like the nation, is made up of peoples from many different countries, with different languages and customs.

"We need to ask ourselves with regard to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers 'are we creating situations where we are not being true and accountable to the Gospel'," he said.

Bishop Grech also pointed to the Australian Bishops' election statement which has a section on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers entitled: Building a Culture of Hospitality.

"The Church is firmly committed to the biblical value of welcoming the stranger," the statement said.

"While we recognise the need for effective border control, we have spoken often of the need to treat migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in a way that respects their human dignity.

"We have stated our opposition to mandatory detention of asylum seekers, beyond the need for initial processing. We insist once again that children not be held in detention. People released into the community on bridging visas need appropriate support.

"The fine work of Church personnel among asylum seekers highlights the need for greater pastoral care in detention centres and better access to them."

The website of the Australian Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office has a Refugee and Migrant Sunday kit available for download. It includes the poster pictured on this page.

Churches celebrate diversity on Refugee and Migrant Sunday (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 26/8/04)

Migration with a view to peace - Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 90th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2004
Australian Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office | Refugee and Migrant Sunday 2004
Bishops Committee For Migrants And Refugees

Bishop Grech says visa changes must go further (CathNews 26/8/04)
Visa changes need to go further - Catholic Church (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 25/8/04)
Stop Juggling Visas (National Assembly, Uniting Church in Australia 25/8/04)
Refugees lose home for a second time (The Advertiser 26/8/04)
Vanstone eases refugee restrictions (The Age 25/8/04)
Catholic bishops take issue with TPVs (SBS 26/8/04)
Canadian churches and government at odds over 'sanctuary' (Ecumenical News International 25/8/04)
Bishop appeals for rescue of refugees (Catholic Weekly 29/8/04)
Pell says let Kosovars stay in Australia (CathNews 23/8/04)
Local church backs business calls for Kosovars to stay (CathNews 5/8/04)
Church welcomes Govt change of heart on protection visas (CathNews 14/7/04)
SA priest travels to Canberra to plead TPV holders' case (CathNews 25/11/03)
Letter shatters Australian dream (The Age 25/11/03)
New Measures for Temporary Protection & Temporary Humanitarian Visa Holders (Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 13/7/04)
Temporary Protection Visa Holders Applying for Further Protection (Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs fact sheet)
Tampering with asylum: confessions of a Jesuit priest (Sydney Morning Herald 14/11/03)
Michelle Grattan: Fighting to let refugees stay (The Age 12/11/03)
Study calls for abolition of Temporary Protection Visa policy (RMIT University 17/6/03)

27 Aug 2004