Migrants must not become scapegoats
8th May 2012 - by Ellen Teague
Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark Diocese has urged Catholics to speak out on behalf of migrants, asking God “to give all of us the courage to speak out prophetically and do what we can to prevent migrant workers from within or outside the European Union becoming scapegoats and targets of popular frustration with the economy”. He was speaking at the homily of a special Mass for Migrants at Westminster Cathedral on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 May, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker. The main celebrant was Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, and more than 50 priests concelebrated, primarily from the ethnic chaplaincies.
In his sermon Bishop Lynch, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, praised the contribution that migrants make to British society in working for organisations such as the NHS. He asked Catholics to “proclaim a message of hope that God is close to the poor, the vulnerable, the exploited, those seeking asylum and those who are undocumented”. He also stressed that the Catholic Church is concerned not just about migrants but also about their families: “A family does not cease to be a family because one of its members emigrates overseas. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (16.3) recognises the family as ‘the natural and fundamental group unit of society entitled to protection by society and the State’. The right of families to reunite should be a priority in a civilized state.”
More than 2,000 people attended the Mass, including Columbans Eamonn O’Brien and Aodh O’Halpin. Others included MPs Jon Cruddas and Jim Dobbin, the Deputy Mayor of the City of Westminster, the Mayors of Richmond, Kensington and Chelsea and Brent, and ambassadors from EU and other countries including Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines, Bolivia, Brazil and Poland. The Mass reflected the tremendous diversity of London’s Catholic community, with music from across the globe, particularly the colourful processions at the beginning and end of the service.
This was the seventh 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 and Ethnic Chaplaincies. A choir for the Mass was provided by the Nigerian community. The Offertory procession and dance was carried out by young people from the Vietnamese Community in beautiful national dress.
Full text of Bishop Lynch’s Homily:
Further photos of the mass can be viewed here: