Catholic World News

Australian churches offer sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation

February 04, 2016

Some Christian churches in Australia are offering to provide sanctuary for immigrants, after a court ruling that the government is authorized to deport the immigrants to Nauru.

About 260 people, of whom 37 are children, face deportation to the isolated island nation in the south Pacific. Human-rights activists have decried Australia’s refusal to accept immigrants, and charged that the camps were they are detained in Naura and Papua New Guinea are in effect prisons, with poor living conditions.

A dozen churches have offered to take in the immigrants, the AsiaNews service reports. Dr. Peter Catt, the dean of the Anglican cathedral in Brisbane, said that the churches are “reinventing the ancient concept of sanctuary,” and taking what “is really a moral stand.”

The legal status of sanctuary has not been tested in Australia, Dr. Catt said. But as a practical matter, he observed, “it wouldn’t be a good look, I don’t think, for someone to enter a church and to drag people away.”

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