The British Government has come under intense criticism for their harsh and cruel treatment of asylum seekers who cross the English Channel on small boats. The scheme involves refusing asylum in the United Kingdom and deporting them to Rwanda who have agreed to take them for substantial sums of money. The purported aim is to disrupt the highly profitable ‘business model’ of the people smugglers who organise the Channel crossing.

Australia has, for some time, adopted the same policy to those attempting to gain access to our shores through similar means. We still sub-contract our responsibilities to offshore lands for processing that, for many, takes years to complete. We know the huge challenges there are, internationally, in finding responses to this issue, responses that must match the desire to help with the limited resources on which there are so many calls. We pray for those who aim each day to just survive. We also pray for those who seek solutions to do so with compassion and regard for the dignity of each person. 

The Gospels urge us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open the doors to God and that in the faces of others, we see the face of Christ himself. As Christians, we cannot remain content and become desensitised by our treatment of the plight of the most marginalised and the vulnerable. Pope Francis describes such behaviour as a ‘globalisation of indifference’. He reminds us that it is our duty to replace indifference with compassion, ignorance with respect and suspicion with love.