ON behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia, I offer our thoughts and prayers for the safety of the asylum seekers affected by the latest tragedy off Christmas Island.
Our prayers are also with the rescuers as they do all they can to help the survivors.
The tragedies of today and last week have once again drawn our attention to the plight of asylum seekers in our region.
Too many places in our world are ravaged by violence and too many people suffer the horrors of torture and persecution.
In this broken world, people will always seek safety and the opportunity to live a life of freedom, even if the journey itself poses grave risk.
This life of safety is one that we as Australians too often take for granted, and too often fail to share in the true spirit of hospitality and welcome.
The boats that come to our shores do not carry criminals.
They carry men, women and children who flee torture and persecution.
As the nation responds to these latest tragedies, we pray that the harshness of partisan politics be replaced with compassion and humanity.
We pray that the Parliament will rise above the longstanding and divisive rhetoric which damages lives and destroys hope.
We pray that the voices of Australians who embody the spirit of hospitality in their everyday lives will be heard above a shrill minority.
We continue to pray and work for a world in which people are not forced to abandon their lives and their homes and seek safety by way of a dangerous journey to nations such as ours.