A banner at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne encouraging people to “fully welcome refugees” will remain until Australia's “inhumane and demeaning” asylum policies change, the Dean of Melbourne, Dr Andreas Loewe, has confirmed.
Dr Loewe made this statement following creditable claims by asylum seekers that they were taken up by an Australian naval vessel and placed in a lifeboat with written instructions to return to Indonesia.
News sources claim that the first such documented group of asylum seekers to be transferred into a lifeboat received an assurance that they would be transferred to offshore detention on Christmas Island. The asylum seekers' claims have not been denied by the Minister for Immigration.
The Dean said: “I am convinced that future generations of Australians will judge this policy for what it is: inhumane to those seeking our protection, and demeaning to Australia as a nation. These actions will not only be judged by our children and grandchildren but by God himself. Christ's judgement will be based on a simple measure: 'What you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done to me' (St Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25 verse 40).”
Dr Loewe confirmed that the Cathedral's banner to invite people to welcome refugees fully would remain in place until Australia's asylum policies were substantially revised.
“In August , St Paul's Cathedral placed a large-scale banner on its South-west spire, challenging our politicians to ‘fully welcome refugees’. This banner will remain there as a daily reminder and appeal, until these policies change.”
Last August, Dr Loewe said the seven-metre banner had been installed in conjunction with a leading Anglican agency, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, because of the Cathedral’s existing connections with asylum seekers and refugees.
“We exercise a ministry of welcome to them through our successful English as a Second Language Programmes,” he said at the time.
“Twice a week recent arrivals to our shores meet at St Paul's. Our programme enables them not only to improve their understanding of Australia and English, but also provides a platform for them to share their stories of past hardship, and to give voice to their hope for a better future. All hope to become fully integrated members of our society, committed to life in Australia.”
* More on asylum from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/search/node/asylum
With thanks to the Anglican Communion News Service.