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Parish priest lends support to threatened Bruderhof Community

The Catholic Church has lent its support to the Bruderhof Community in northern NSW ahead of a meeting tomorrow with Federal Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.

The community - dubbed by the media as 'cousins' of the Amish - has had 30 of its members deported to the US and the UK because the government will not renew their temporary visas. More members are facing expulsion.

Founded in Germany in 1920, Bruderhof is an international movement of Christian communities that are located in North America, Europe and Australia. They are regarded as one of the "peace churches", alongside the Menonnites and the Quakers.

Inverell parish priest Fr Bernie Frize has publicly expressed his shock and disappointment over news of the deportation of the 30 community members.

"When we sing our national anthem - we sing that "for those who come across the seas, we have bounteous plains to share…" and here we are sending back beautiful people - industrious and with unchallengeable integrity - what's it all about?" Fr Frize said.

"We are all God's children and those who make our communities better places to live in should not only be welcomed but asked to stay," he added. "I will pray for the appropriate bureaucrats that they be healed of their blindness."

The Inverell Times reports that in an extraordinary show of solidarity, politicans from all parties have come out in support of the Bruderhof.

Meeting with several Bruderhof members last July, Pope John Paul II said: "You share a tradition in which Christ's call to discipleship finds expression in common life in the Spirit and in daily witness to the evangelical law of love."

The Pope said that Christians "always need to hear anew the radical summons to holiness which is the heart of our Saviour's message" and that the Bruderhof witness to that message "is especially reflected in [their] respect for God's creation and [their] deep commitment to defending the sacredness of all human life."

Catholic Church lends support to troubled Bruderhof Community (Inverell Times 15/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bruderhof Communities in Australia
Bruderhof Communities
Bruderhof Communities - official website
Bruderhof Peacemakers Guide

Amish 'cousins' fight for right to stay in Australia (Sun-Herald 6/3/05)
Pressure mounts on Immigration Minister to meet with Bruderhof (Inverell Times 8/3/05)
Bruderhof community to meet Senator Vanstone (Inverell Times 11/3/05)
Bruderhof community faces expulsion in visa row (Inverell Times 4/3/05)
Families forced to leave country (Northern Daily Leader 7/3/05)
Bruderhof to put historic property Newstead up for sale (Inverell Times 28/2/05)
Bruderhof community meets Pope (Independent Catholic News 2/7/04)

16 Mar 2005