Address to the Ninth Bishop Joe Grech Memorial Colloquium – Part 3: Isolationism versus Moral Responsibility

11 September 2019
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv during celebrations for St Monica's 160th anniversary. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta.


Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta

Address at the Ninth Bishop Joe Grech Memorial Colloquium on Ethics and Migration

“Nurturing a Culture of Encounter and Hospitality”

Brisbane, 5 August 2019




In the last analysis, Pope Francis’ vision of a world not separated by excessive nationalism but built on the culture of encounter and solidarity evokes a moral response. He challenges us to consider the plight of displaced people and the global inequality on the one hand, and on the other, our privilege of enjoying some of the best living conditions on the planet.

Can we go on protecting our way of life with little interest in or regard for them? Can we continue to secure our privilege as our exclusive right without confronting injustice that impinges itself upon us? Can we adopt measures that amount to unjust and inhumane practices against our fellow human beings in order to justify our attitude? It seems to me that we cannot avoid these and other vexing moral questions.

Australia rose to the challenge in the past with its generous embrace of migrants and refugees.

It proved itself especially courageous during the Vietnamese exodus and accepted an unprecedented number of Asian refugees for the first time in its history. We have not done too badly since. A few of us live off the fat of the land. But most of us have resettled well and doing our bit for the country.

We’ve practically cornered the bakery, hair salon, pedicure, manicure and waxing businesses.

We are making our presence felt in the Australian Church, too. I quipped at my episcopal ordination that we are the new Irish and that still holds true in many dioceses across Australia and America. Despite the “final solution” that former Senator Fraser Anning proposed in parliament last year, multicultural Australia is here to stay.

All things being equal, I believe that Australia has changed for the better with each successive wave of new arrivals. Australia is what it is today because of their love of freedom and fundamental human values.

Australia is what it is today because of their determination and drive for a better future. Migrants and refugees bring energy, drive and dynamism to this country. They also contribute hugely to the renewal and revitalisation of the Catholic Church. So much so that Western Sydney boasts the highest participation rate in Australia.

Where would we be without the vibrant faith and strong community spirit of migrants and refugees? We honour the legacy of this great nation not by excessive protectionism, isolation and defence of our privilege at all costs. Rather, we make it greater by our concern and care for asylum seekers in the spirit of compassion and solidarity that has marked the history of our country from its beginning.

Part 4 will be published tomorrow.

To read Part 2 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.


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