- Strangers in a strange land
With the United Kingdom criticised for opting out of a European Union plan to resettle thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, what should be the Christian response to immigration and does Scripture offer any guidance?
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Bishop Patrick Lynch, the chairman of the England and Wales bishops’ conference Office for Migration Policy, has called on the Government to consider giving legal status to thousands of undocumented migrant children living in the United Kingdom.
“Many of these children are born in this country and have lived here most of their lives,” said Bishop Lynch. “They are caught up in the conflicting agendas of children’s rights and efforts to implement immigration controls.”
The bishop was speaking on Monday after a special Mass at Westminster Cathedral for more than 2,000 Catholic migrants living and working in London.
In his homily, Bishop Lynch paid tribute to the contribution immigrants make to Britain and the Church, saying: “You enrich through the values you live and through the work that you do. Likewise your contribution to the Catholic Church has for many years been immense.
“For many years parishes up and down the country, but especially in large cities, have benefited from the faith, the joy and prayerfulness of immigrant communities from all over the world.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable became the first Cabinet Minister to attend such a Mass in his official capacity. There was, though, a notable lack of Westminster politicians compared with previous years.
“It was a beautiful service. I wanted to come and show solidarity with the migrant community of London,” said Mr Cable, who has on occasion been out of step with the Government's hard-line approach on immigration.
“As Bishop Lynch said, migrants make an important economic, spiritual and social contribution to our country,” said Mr Cable, who pointed out his first, late wife, Olympia Rebelo, was a Goan Catholic.