Religious appeal to new PM to speak to the heart of Australia
Media release issued: Thursday, December 6, 2007
In an open letter to Mr Kevin Rudd, the President of Catholic Religious Australia, Fr Mark Raper SJ, says that the 8000 Religious Catholic nuns, brothers and priests in Australia are looking to the new Government to lead the nation into more just relationships.
They expect the Government to address questions that reach beyond a preoccupation with economic prosperity.
While such questions would "touch the respect due to the human dignity of all Australians", Fr Raper's letter pays special attention to people most marginalised, in Australia and internationally.
In offering the experience and expertise of Australia's Religious, he asks for "the necessary symbolic acts of recognition and an apology for past injustices" for Indigenous Australians as well as for programs to address problems in life expectancy, health care access, housing, education and employment.
He calls for Australia to receive and process asylum seekers according to international humanitarian law and to have a migration intake that gives preference to those in most need.
He expresses hope that policies across social services, health care and education will "take into account the complexities of disadvantage and (will) give appropriate weight to the responsibilities of communities as well as of individuals".
Fr Raper also suggests foreign aid and diplomacy programs should give priority to peace-making. Volunteer programs based on service and accompaniment should be restored, and given priority ahead of those based "in self-interested national promotion".
The letter is dated Wednesday, December 5.