Archbishop's 'mass for migrants' in campaign for illegal immigrant amnesty

By staff writers
30 Apr 2007

Thousands are expected to take part in a special church service next week to celebrate immigration and call for an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The 'mass for migrants', which will be celebrated by the most senior figure in the Catholic church in Britain, will take place at Westminster Cathedral on Bank Holiday Monday. It will be followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square.

The Diocese of Westminster expects several thousand people to take part.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, will concelebrate the Mass with the heads of the other two London dioceses, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, who will give the Homily, and Bishop Tom McMahon of Brentwood.

The multilingual Mass on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker will begin with a procession of parishes and faith groups, and will include music from Africa and Latin America.

Prayers will be read in six different languages including Romanian, French, Portuguese, Yoruba and Tamil.

The Mass will be followed by a walk from Westminster Cathedral to Trafalgar Square, where London’s faith and civic communities will take part in a rally in support of the ‘Strangers into Citizens’ campaign.

Strangers into Citizens is calling for a pathway to legal rights for undocumented migrants who have made new lives in the UK.

It is estimated that there are between 300,000 and 500,000 irregular migrants in Britain - a combination of refused asylum seekers and visa overstayers. Many of them are afraid to go back, or do not want to go back because they have jobs and livelihoods in the UK. Many use false documents but pay taxes and contribute to economic growth. Some are asylum-seekers prevented from working who are asking for the dignity of being allowed to do so.

The campaign is urging that those who have been in the UK for four or more years should be admitted to a two-year pathway to full legal rights.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, is expected to appearing on the Andrew Marr programme on BBC 1 on Sunday, 6th May as well as BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday, 7th May, to talk about the campaign.

The special Mass for Migrants will be celebrated at Westminster Cathedral, London SW1, at 10.00am on Bank Holiday Monday, 7th May 2007

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