The Archdiocese of Brisbane has pledged to help resettle at least 100 refugee families from Syria.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Archdiocese had more than 100 parishes and he would ask each parish to reach out to families trying to start new lives in Australia.
“This is an extraordinary time and it calls for extraordinary generosity,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“Governments can and must do plenty, but they can’t do it all. Communities like ours have an essential role to play with our large network that can help families through our churches, schools, and child care services.
“This is not new for the Archdiocese – we have done this many times with families in need – but it’s particularly important now as Australians come together at a time of such desperation for so many people.”
Archbishop Coleridge today released a letter to Brisbane’s Catholic community (see link below), urging everyone in the Archdiocese to play their part and to see this as a key element in responding to Pope Francis’ call for a Jubilee of Mercy in 2016.
The Archbishop urged parishes to take in families “whatever their religion may be”.
The Archdiocese of Brisbane takes in the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, stretching from the NSW border, west to Gatton and north to Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Childers.
Archbishop Coleridge said parishes would be encouraged to help find accommodation for the families while also utilising the network of Brisbane Catholic Education schools and Centacare social services.
He said the Archdiocese was happy to play a role in any planning by governments and community organisations for the arrival of refugees.
Between 2000 and 2005, the Archdiocese helped to facilitate the integration of 800 people released from detention on Temporary Protection Visas.
The Federal Government announced last week that it would permanently resettle 12,000 Syrians fleeing persecution in their homeland.
Archbishop Coleridge said that this was a good decision that would allow Australia to play its proper part in seeking a solution to what is now a world crisis.
The Archdiocese has begun planning meetings to resettle the refugees and will ensure any initiatives are well coordinated and resourced.
Several parishes in the Archdiocese are currently hosting refugee claimant families including Muslims who have left their homelands. These families are supported by parishes through accommodation, food and education, including English classes.
The Archdiocese is taking donations through its Syrian Refugee Relief Appeal. More information is available on the Archdiocesan website at www.brisbanecatholic.org.au.
Last week, Pope Francis called on European Catholics to assist refugees as the crisis became a major international story.
“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death on account of war and hunger, and who are traveling toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbors’ to the smallest and abandoned, (and) to give them a concrete hope,” the Pope said.
“Therefore, in the imminence of the Year of Mercy, I make an appeal to the parishes, to religious communities, to monasteries, and sanctuaries of all Europe to express the concreteness of the Gospel, and to welcome a family of refugees.”
Archbishop Coleridge said: “The same call comes to the Catholics of Queensland and Australia”.
Released by the Archdiocesan Communication Office