Bishop attacks government over undocumented migrants

By agency reporter
6 May 2008

A Catholic bishop has launched a strong attack on the government's failure to regularise undocumented migrants living in Britain, branding its policies 'irresponsible', 'shameful' and 'unjust'.

Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood strongly criticised the Government during his Homily at yesterday's ‘Mass in Support of Migrants Workers in London’, held at Westminster Cathedral.

The mass was held on the feast day of St Joseph the Worker.

During his homily Bishop McMahon emphasised the importance of welcoming migrants. “Welcoming and hospitality have always been at the very heart of the Bible and have been very much the tradition of the United Kingdom. Migrants helped to rebuild the United Kingdom following World War II and are continuing to regenerate London and this country. They make an indispensable contribution” he said.

Bishop McMahon also drew attention to efforts being made in recent years to extend this welcome to the many long-term undocumented migrants in the UK. According to many experts, these migrant workers have lived and worked in London for many years, often paying taxes and contributing to the economy and society; however their status in the UK is that of being here illegally, and many are threatened with deportation.

Bishop McMahon said: “We are concerned here today with the plight of the long term migrants and the Government’s failure to respond must be consistently challenged. For any government to choose to do nothing about regularisation is irresponsible and leaves thousands of migrants open to exploitation and fear. I can only describe it as shameful and unjust.”

The Mass for Migrants Workers in London was attended by over 2,000 people from over 40 countries. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop Pat Lynch, auxiliary Bishop of Southwark and Bishop Thomas McMahon. Also present at the Mass was the Papal Nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz and civic dignitaries included the Lord Mayor of Westminster.

Over 50 priests took part in the celebration of the Mass, many from the 47 ethnic chaplaincies in London.

You can listen to the Homily by Bishop McMahon in full at http://www.rcdow.org.uk/multimedia/?page=audio&player=62

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