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Dr Maryanne Loughry rsm AM - Jesuit Refugee Service Aust and Minister of Immigration’s Advisory Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention

  • 09 December 2015

Dr Maryanne Loughry rsm AM was the guest speaker at the Business Network’s final event for 2015, presenting on a topic that’s been receiving much attention of late – that of refugees and asylum seekers.

Dr Loughry is a member of both the Minister of Immigration’s Advisory Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD) and the Governing Committee of the International Catholic Migration Committee in Geneva.  Additionally she is also the Associate Director of Jesuit Refugee Australia, making her a qualified voice for the issues affecting this disenfranchised population. 

The number of people on the move has seen an alarming growth in the past few years with no evidence of waning in the immediate future, and Dr Loughry presented several key issues in her presentation. 

One is identity – of putting a human face to this humanitarian tragedy.  She made mention of the phrase coined by Pope Francis on one of his first pastoral visits to Lampedusa (the first port of call for many migrants crossing the waters from North Africa); the ‘globalisation of indifference’, as the Holy Father called it, is a real danger to stunting our ability as a global village to tackle the needs and suffering of the marginalised. 

The perception of needing to protect our own above others’ and the resentment of this ‘invasion’ into our tranquil existence can be a tough attitude to overcome, but nevertheless must be a responsibility taken up by us all collectively.  As Christians, and more broadly as human beings, we must compel ourselves to act.

Dr Loughry also spoke of identifying the reasons for this mass migration to help us - especially those in a position of power and influence to initiate change  - understand the needs that exist and from there, take up the appropriate action to address these issues.   

Archbishop Fisher noted that the Church offers opportunities for us to know these refugees, and to provide them with practical assistance that will make a difference in giving them a better life, whether it’s through donations, training and employment opportunities, education and social interaction to help them integrate more successfully into Australian society. 

Addressing a roomful of business people and other community leaders, Dr Loughry called for a response from two levels: An intellectual response that provides tangible opportunities for refugees to carve a better sustainable future for themselves.  A human response that provides solutions according to individual situations rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Adjusting perception is also crucial to softening stiff attitudes towards migrants and refugees: we must stop seeing them as a ‘problem’.  Rather, they are an opportunity to help create a more just world for everyone through the positive action that they inspire. 

Archbishop Fisher also mentioned the Jubilee Year of Mercy (which for St Mary’s Cathedral starts with the opening of its holy door on 13thDecember), reminding everyone that God’s message of love, compassion and mercy is in evidence and repeated everywhere: through the work done by people like Dr Loughry, through Pope Francis’ instigation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, through the stories we hear in the media. 

There is no excuse to plead ignorance or remain in a state of inaction.

Those wishing to find out more about CatholicCare’s Syrian Refugee Appeal can visit their website at www.catholiccare.org