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Thursday, 10 May 2018 13:24

Chorus of support for Sr Pat Fox, expelled from the Philippines

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Sr Pat Fox2 150Australian Sister Patricia Ann Fox of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion has been in the headlines since her arrest in the Philippines on April 16 for allegedly engaging in illegal activities. She was released the following day after a 22-hour detention, but has since had her missionary visa revoked and was given 30 days to leave the country.

Catholic Religious Australia is among a growing chorus of religious and broader community leaders who have spoken out in defence of Sr Pat and her work with the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

A joint statement from CRA, The Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Australian Catholic Religious Against the Trafficking of Humans, and the Office for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, issued on April 27, called on the Philippines government to allow Sr Pat to continue her good work in the Philippines.

0517SrPatFox 450“We applaud the missionary work of Sr Patricia over these many years, bringing the face of Christ to our Philippine sisters and brothers. Standing in solidarity with the poorest of the poor, Sr Patricia has contributed to many agricultural projects in order to empower ordinary people to take charge of their lives and work towards the alleviation of poverty,” the statement said.

“We believe Sr Patricia has, during her 27 years in the Philippines, been an exemplar of the core principles of Catholic Social Teaching, in her actions to support the Human Dignity of each person, the Common Good of all, and Solidarity between Australia and the Philippines.

“We are dismayed at the news of the cancellation of her Missionary Visa. This action will curtail or prevent her from the important work of bringing about the Kingdom of God.”

The Global Sisters Report says Church, activist and women's groups have rallied around Sr Pat; among them, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. From Rome, Fox's congregation head also issued a statement published in a Philippine newspaper.

On May 8, nearly 500 leaders and members of the religious community, politicians, and union and community members signed the campaign initiated by Movement Against Tyranny Australia, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and Migrante Australia, urging President Rodrigo Duterte and the Bureau of Immigration to restore the missionary visa of Sr Pat, and thank her for dedicating 27 years of her life to help the poor and the marginalised.

 The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines held a Mass of solidarity for Sr Pat on April 27, at St Anthony Shrine in Sampaloc, Manila.

In a statement issued on April 25, Sr Pat said she was "very sad that the decision at present is that I leave the Philippines". She has since submitted a statement to the authorities arguing her case to stay.

In her April 25 statement, she said:

“As a Christian, believing that our mission is to bring God's Kingdom to the here and now, I couldn't help but to get involved both with projects, such as training in organic farming, to uplift the livelihood of the farmers, but also to advocate with them for their rights to land, livelihood, peace, justice and security, all universal human rights which the church sees as integral to her mission.
It seems this is what has brought me into conflict with the Philippine Government. I am still hoping for a chance to explain how I see my mission as a religious sister and maybe the decision can be reconsidered.
Whatever happens, I will be forever grateful to all those Filipinos that I call my friends and for all those from both church and sectors who have supported me through this time. I may lose my right to be in the Philippines but I can never lose the learnings and beautiful memories.”

Global Sisters Report sat down with Sr Pat in the Philippines and talked to her about her ministry there and her current situation. The Q & A from their interview can be read here.

PHOTO: Sr Patricia Fox in the Philippines (Ceres P. Doyo/Global Sisters Report)

Related Links

The nun vs the President: How Sister Patricia Fox got under Rodrigo Duterte's skin (ABC News)

‘Tireless worker’ Australian nun Sr Patricia Fox released but facing possible deportation (Catholic Leader)

Philippines expels Australian nun Patricia Anne Fox (Reuters/Fairfax)