Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has praised the contribution of refugees and migrants to Australia during a seminar opening a three-day conference in Brisbane on missionary clergy and religious. Source: The Catholic Leader.
“Migrants and refugees always bring energy and dynamism to a new country,”
Bishop Long said, speaking Monday night at the ninth Bishop Joe Grech Memorial Colloquium on Ethics and Migration.
“We are what we are and who we are today – a dynamic, young prosperous country – because of the love of freedom and the love of fundamental human values on the part of our new Australians.”
Bishop Long, chairman of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Service and Mission, spoke with heart and humour about arriving in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee boat person.
“We, the Vietnamese boat people, have been generously accepted to this country, and haven’t done too badly since,” he explained.
“Most of us are well settled and doing our bit for the country. We have practically cornered the bakeries, the hair salons, the manicure and the waxing businesses.
“We are making our presence felt even in the Australian Church too. We are the new Irish.”
Also speaking at the Bishop Joe Grech Memorial Colloquium was Fr Fabio Baggio, a missionary priest of the Scalabrinian Congregation and now the Rome-based under-secretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.
“It is not just about migrants: it is also about our fears,” Fr Baggio said, quoting Pope Francis.
“The fears we feel in the face of today's migratory challenges are real. The signs of meanness we see around us heighten our fear of ‘the other’, the unknown, the marginalised, the foreigner.
“Often we refuse to encounter the other and we raise barriers to defend ourselves. Refusing to encounter others is not human. Rather, we are called to overcome our fear and open ourselves up to encounter.”
The sixth national conference on missionary clergy and religious in Australia runs until August 7 and is open to the public.
Bishop: Migrants help make Australia 'dynamic' (The Catholic Leader)