Australian Church Vows To Defy Govt., To Offer Sanctuary To Asylum-seekers


Australian church leaders say they will offer sanctuary to asylum-seekers facing removal to a remote Pacific camp, vowing to defy the government’s harsh immigration rules.  The Anglican Dean of Brisbane Peter Catt said on Thursday that he was prepared to face charges of obstruction by attempting to prevent authorities from entering facilities, such as the St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, to arrest refugees.

The refugees, who were brought to Australia from Nauru mostly for medical reasons, number more than 260 and include 37 babies born in the country and 54 other children, advocates said. According to Catt, the churches were reinventing the “ancient concept of sanctuary” by opening facilities to the asylum-seekers.

Catt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the concept of sanctuary was not tested under law, “but my hunch is that if the authorities chose to enter the church and take people away, it would probably be a legal action”. He added: “So this is really a moral stand and it wouldn’t be a good look, I don’t think, for someone to enter a church and to drag people away.”