'Scandal' of treatment of migrants highlighted by church service

By staff writers
May 2, 2011

Over 2,000 migrants living and working in London are attending a special Mass for Migrants, celebrated at Southwark Catholic Cathedral on Monday 2 May 2011.

In the Catholic calendar the day is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker - whose celebration is associated with concern for the dignity and rights of labour, including the migrant labour upon which of the wealth of the modern world depends.

The Homily at the Mass for Migrants, which takes place at 11.00am, will be given by the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon.

In his address, the bishop highlights the achievements of the campaign for a Living Wage, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.

He stresses the importance of ensuring that migrant workers are not exploited and emphasises that Catholic Social teaching calls for dignity and justice for the worker.

This is the sixth Mass for Migrants to have been organised jointly by the Diocese of Westminster, the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of Brentwood and supported by their Justice and Peace Commissions.

The Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark and Bishop Thomas McMahon, the Bishop of Brentwood. Over 50 priests will take part in the celebration of the Mass, many from the 47 Catholic ethnic chaplaincies in London.

The Mass reflects the tremendous diversity of London’s Catholic community. Dignitaries set to attend include Theresa de Vega, Consul General, Embassy of the Philippines; HE Bobby McDonagh, Irish Ambassador; HE João de Vallera, Ambassador of Portugal; HE Mr Garvin Nicholas, High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Mayors of London boroughs expected to attend include Cllr Christina Valcarcel, Mayor of Lambeth; Cllr Harbhajan Singh OBE, Mayor of Brent, Mrs Kawal Singh, Mayoress of Brent; Cllr David Marlow, Mayor of Richmond upon Thames; Mrs Jane Marlow Mayoress of Richmond upon Thames; Councillor Nirmal Singh Gill, Mayor of Barking and Dagenham; and Cllr Sally Mulready, Speaker of Hackney.

Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St Joseph the Worker in 1955. Jesus, the focal point of Christianity's understandings of God and the world, was a carpenter, trained by Joseph.

Catholic social teaching stresses the dignity of work, and the rights of labour - though its implementation or reflection has varied widely, and conservative politicians identifying with Catholicism have frequently ignored or sidelined labour rights issues.

The full, prepared text of Bishop McMahon's sermon for the 2 May 2011 Mass for Migrants is published on Ekklesia here, with kind acknowledgements to the Archbishop of Westminster's communications office: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14682


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