Catholic Leaders Condemn Tony Abbott’s anti Asylum Seeker Tirade!
Two of Australia’s leading Catholic priests say they are “appalled, ashamed and offended” that former prime minister Tony Abbott would cite the Bible on the world stage to argue for cruel and heartless anti-immigration measures.
Mr Abbott on Wednesday morning told the Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London that world leaders should follow his controversial example and turn boats around and deny asylum seekers entry.
Mr Abbott, a failed trainee priest and devout Catholic, urged Tory ministers to ignore their consciences and the “wholesome instinct” to love thy neighbour, as is preached to Catholics in the Bible.
“It will require some force,” he warned.
“It will gnaw at our consciences yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever.”
“This wholesome instinct [to love thy neighbour] is leading Europe to catastrophic error,” he declared.
Catholics consider the New Testament teaching to “love thy neighbour as thyself” as one of the Bible’s central messages.
Retired Bishop Pat Power told The Gutter Trash he was “absolutely astounded” and “appalled” by Mr Abbott’s use of the Bible to preach a “narrow-minded” and “hard-hearted” approach to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“I’m ashamed that a former Australian PM would be putting out a message like this,” he said.
“People will make their own judgements but that’s completely at odds with what’s at the heart of Christianity. I’m certainly offended.”
He said asylum seeker issues were complex but noted Australia’s “history of compassion” and acceptance of refugees in the past had improved the country as a whole.
Human Rights lawyer and Jesuit priest Frank Brennan joined Bishop Power in condemning Mr Abbott’s speech.
Both cited Pope Francis’ first visit outside Rome to the Italian migrant island Lampedusa in 2013, where he called for a “reawakening of consciences”.
“We have lost a sense of brotherly responsibility,” the Pope said at the time.
Father Brennan said the parable was “just as relevant” as it had ever been in relation to the plight of asylum seekers and said Mr Abbott’s advice for European leaders was simplistic and wrong.
He said while Australia could return asylum seekers to Indonesia because they were not fleeing direct persecution, no European leader that cold return asylum seekers to Libya with a straight face.
“Mr Abbott is confusing the situation regarding Australia,” he said.
He also said Mr Abbott lacked the credentials to preach to the rest of the world because he had not resolved human rights breaches in detention camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
“The appalling thing is that ex-PM Abbott has no right to preach to the world because having stopped the boats, he insisted on maintaining the facilities at Nauru and PNG,” he said.
“They are not are just harsh but cruel and they don’t deter asylum seekers because we’ve now locked the front door.”
Mr Abbott boasted to his Tory audience that the detention camps had all but closed.