Bishop says Australia must help islanders

Australia should show "openness and compassion" towards Pacific Islanders facing homelessness due to climate change, said Catholic Earthcare Australia chair Bishop Christopher Toohey, in response to the Federal Government's perceived hard-heartedness.

The Catholic Weekly reports that rising sea levels caused by climate change have resulted in the loss of land, crops and freshwater supplies on many of the Pacific Islands.

The Federal Government has twice refused requests to resettle the population of Tuvalu, where 3000 people have fled.

Residents on the Cartaret islands in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu's Tegua Island have been evacuated and some of the Kiribati islands are already under water.

Bishop Toohey said: "New Zealand and even Canada have responded to the environmental crisis, it seems bizarre that we, as the closest nation, have not come to their aid."

New Zealand has agreed to accept migrants from Tuvalu, which experts believe will be completely submerged by mid century, and Canada is funding the relocation of residents from parts of Vanuatu affected by global warming.

Bishop Toohey says climate change is a problem that we simply cannot ignore.

"Whether we like it or not, at the end of the day, this is a problem that we need to do something about because it is not just going to go away," he said.

"Our earth is not a bottomless pit, just like our bank accounts, our resources are finite. We are talking about life on earth. Catholics have a responsibility to be informed about this."

Aust must help islanders: bishop (Catholic Weekly 15/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Earthcare Australia

Catholic leaders warn of 'environmental refugees' scenario (CathNews 22/11/05)
Catholic Earthcare highlights Vatican climate change intervention (CathNews 10/11/05)

12 Jan 2006