Australians call their nation `God's own country,' but the outspoken Anglican Archbishop of Sydney said today that Jesus and his family would probably not be allowed in now if they tried to apply for asylum.
Archbishop Peter Jensen harshly criticised the government's policy of turning away asylum seekers caught trying to sneak into the country.
Jensen said in a speech to Christian charity Anglicare in Sydney that the country was fast losing its compassion for the most vulnerable children in the community.
The story of Christmas focused on the birth of a child to a single mother who is cast out of his homeland as a refugee, Jensen said.
"With the apparent cloud over the paternity of Jesus, it is likely that he would have been a victim in our society," he said in a statement. "Perhaps as refugees, the family of Jesus would have been denied entry into Australia."
Prime Minister John Howard's conservative government has a popular policy of turning away asylum seekers caught trying to sneak into Australia in boats operated by people smugglers.
Jensen has made headlines in the past by saying homosexuality is against the Scripture, and he recently said the worldwide Anglican church could split over the issue of ordaining gay priests.