June 02, 2014
Pope Francis would be appalled at the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers, according to one of Australia’s most senior Catholics in an interview with Four Corners.
Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said the pontiff would be “appalled” if he visited Manus Island, where asylum seekers are held under a policy he described as “cruel and dehumanising”.
The comments follow a statement by Australian Catholic Bishops last month which condemned the asylum-seeker policies of both sides of politics, describing Australia’s approach as “institutionalised cruelty”.
“Pope Francis would subscribe to that statement that the current policy supported by both sides of politics is morally unacceptable and shames our country and the need for it to be reconsidered is urgent,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“What is puzzling and indeed troubling in all of this is that you have politicians who are not themselves cruel people, quite the contrary, but they are presiding over a policy which has to be named cruel.
“And this can only happen if those who are seeking refuge on our shores are dehumanised – and that’s the heart of the problem.”
The interview with Archbishop Coleridge will be aired on ABC1 tonight following a screening of the BBC Panorama documentary The Pope’s Revolution.
In July last year Pope Francis called for greater compassion for asylum seekers when he visited the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa.
He met with asylum seekers, mainly from North Africa, who had risked their lives on boats bound for Europe.
At the time the Pope said people had become indifferent to the suffering of asylum seekers.
“We have become used to other people’s suffering, it doesn’t concern us, it doesn’t interest us, it’s none of our business,” Pope Francis told Reuters at the time.