The Treatment of Immigrants
Posted by shane
The following statement was issued by the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales during their Low Week meeting, 1954.
In accordance with the wishes of the Holy See we desire to draw attention to the situation arising in England and Wales from the presence here of a large number of refugees and of emigrants who have left their own countries in search of better conditions.
From the Continent, and especially from countries enslaved by Communists, there have come to this country some 200,000 Catholics. One hundred thousand of these are Poles and 25,000 Ukrainians, and there are considerable numbers of Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Yugoslavs and Rumanians. Nor do we overlook several thousand Italians, Germans and Austrians.
From our sister country of Ireland, to which we owe so great a debt for its aid in the growth of the Church in this country, there is a constant flow of emigrants, men and women, who come here in search of employment.
A further group, now 2,000 strong, but growing steadily, comprises students from overseas, principally from the Colonies, who have come to this country for higher education at the universities and technical colleges.
The Hierarchy has made every effort to provide for the spiritual welfare of these our brethren in Christ.
Two Polish Vicars General, acting under the guidance of the Bishops, direct the labours of some 80 Polish priests in their work for the Polish exiles.
The Catholic Committee for European Volunteer Workers has the assistance of some 30 priests, who care for refugee and emigrant Catholics from the Continent.
The national chaplain for overseas students works in conjunction with the chaplains to the various universities for the overseas students.
We wish to pay our tribute to all those priests from abroad who are labouring with admirable zeal and sacrifice for their compatriots. We desire also to thank our own clergy and faithful for their assistance in this problem.
Especially are we grateful to those of our clergy who have given to priests from other lands a home in their presbyteries and facilities in their churches.
We recall with gratitude the help of priests from Ireland who have come here to give missions to the Irish emigrants.
Once more we thank the faithful for their generous support of the Catholic Council for Polish Welfare and the Catholic Committee for European Volunteer Workers.
Conscious, however, of the pressing needs of these emigrants, we wish to make the following suggestions:
1. It is our earnest hope that a sincere welcome will be given by our people to all these emigrants and refugees who, no matter what their nationality, are one with us in Christ.
2. Whilst they should be welcomed into our own associations, it must be remembered that they will find comfort and support first of all in their own grouping together.
Where, then, the numbers justify it, facilities should be provided for their own Masses in our churches and their own meetings in our halls.
We should show our respect for their national customs.
3. Our priests should give hospitality and help to these priests from abroad and consult them in the problems of their compatriots.
Our laity should go out of their way to show friendliness and interest in their brethren from abroad and be ready to invite them into their own family circle.
4. Particular care should be taken to ensure that their children be accommodated in our Catholic schools.
5. We warmly commend the missions which are being given for the Irish emigrants and the formation of Catholic clubs and societies under the guidance of the clergy.
We have a special duty of charity to these our brethren from other lands. In fulfilling this duty not only shall we help them in their hard and trying conditions, but we shall strengthen the whole Church here in England and Wales.
By our charity and prayers we can happily incorporate into our own ranks these great numbers of men and women who, despite so many trials, have remained true to the Faith which is their glory and ours.