Sydney – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came under increased pressure to increase Australia’s intake of Syrian refugees and to give priority to Christians.
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher disclosed this on Tuesday when he addressed church leaders in Sydney.
Fisher called on the Australian government to increase refugee intake but said priority should be given to Christians.
He said this had become necessary because there were concerted campaigns to drive Christians from the Middle-East.
Fisher noted that other groups were also suffering badly and being persecuted, but many Syrian Christians had relatives and a cultural affinity in Australia and “we should be honouring those ties and connections’’.
The Archbishop said the current persecutions against Christians were the worst in history, including under the Romans.
“It’s estimated 100,000 Christians are now martyred every year, 11 killed for their faith every hour.
“The Catholic Church leader also backed military action against Islamic State targets in Syria, saying the “monumental crisis’’ justified “last resort’’ military action.
“Sometimes force is all that you have got to bring about justice and advance a solution,’’ Fisher said.
The Labor opposition also called for an immediate increase of 10,000 refugees.
Also, some in Abbott’s own party said it should double that number but it was also reported that the conservative MPs were privately telling Abbott “no more Muslim men’’.
Abbott said he was expecting a report from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton who was in Geneva meeting the UNHCR to discuss how Australia could best help
Abbott has so far resisted several days of calls to increase the number of refugees taken in this year beyond the current 13,750.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that government was looking at the best way to offer both permanent and temporary protection to help the current crisis in Europe.
“I think that Christian minorities are being persecuted in Syria and even if the conflict is over they will still be persecuted.
“So, I believe there will be a focus on ensuring we can get access to those persecuted ethnic and religious minorities who will have no home to return to even when the conflict is over,’’ he said. (dpa/NAN)