London: thousands attend Mass for Migrants at Westminster Cathedral

Migrants from London's three dioceses; Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood, took part in the fourth Mass for Migrants, held at Westminster Cathedral on 4 May, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Bishop Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, was principal Celebrant, and read out a message of welcome and support from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor who is currently unwell. Bishop Patrick Lynch, Auxilliary Bishop of Southwark and Bishop Bernard Longley, Auxilliary Bishop of Westminster concelebrated the Mass with Bishop McMahon.

In his homily, Bishop Patrick Lynch emphasised that the Catholic Church has a concern for all workers whether documented or undocumented. He said that a way should be found for undocumented workers who had been in the UK for over five years to 'continue to contribute to British society'.

'The Church is concerned for all workers - documented and undocumented. A migrant’s legal status is quite separate from his or her human dignity. A human being’s worth is defined by their God given dignity, not by the papers they do or do not carry. There is clear moral case that undocumented workers who have lived and worked in this country for five years or more should be given the opportunity to build a future in the United Kingdom and continue to contribute to British society. You have worked here: your children have been born here and attend school here: you are part of our parishes and our society here and a way should be found so that you can remain here.'

Bishop Lynch also stressed the important contribution that migrant workers have made to the Catholic Church and to Britain in recent years and urged people to prevent migrants being used as scapegoats during the economic downturn.

'You have contributed culturally and economically to the nation and you have contributed spiritually and socially to the Church bringing with you your deep faith, your commitment to the family and your loyalty to the Church. So my first prayer today is that during a time of recession when there will inevitably be job shortages we as the Church will do all we can not to allow migrant workers from within or outside the European Union to become scapegoats and targets of peoples frustration with the economy.'

The Mass reflected the tremendous diversity of London’s Catholic community, with people representing countries from around the globe. A number of civic dignitaries, including Mayor of London Boroughs and Ambassadors from EU and other countries attended the Mass.

For the first time, services were also held at Westminster Abbey, Methodist Central Hall and other places of worship around the capital, to celebrate the place of immigrants in modern Britain. After the services, an estimated 20,000 people converged on Trafalgar Square, to attend a rally organised by London Citizens, calling for the regularisation of the legal status of long term migrants in the UK.

Share this story