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Bishop calls for justice for migrant workers

Bishop Thomas gave the homily at Bank Holiday Monday's Migrants Mass and led a procession to Methodist Central Hall for the Living Wage Assembly.

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Posted: 3 May 2011

Bishop Thomas giving homily (copyright Chris Jepson)More than 1,500 people - many from London's diverse ethnic communities - attended the annual Mass for Migrant Workers at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. The Mass - the sixth organised by the London dioceses of Westminster, Brentwood and Southwark - was presided over by Archbishop Peter Smith and concelebrated with about 60 priests from the dioceses.

During his homily, Bishop Thomas McMahon told the congregation it was a "scandal and deeply unjust" - as well as "an affront to natural justice" - that "ordinary workers and especially migrant workers" are "exploited, taken advantage of and paid less than a living wage". He also paid tribute to the London Citizens / Citizens UK living wage campaign, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Colourful processionsThe service began with a colourful procession of banners from dozens of parishes and Catholic organisations. At the Offertory, as well as the bread and wine, migrant workers brought up symbols of their work such as hammers and briefcases. Intercessions included prayers for workers and families to be put first, especially in times of economic hardship.

Dignitaries who attended included: 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; Cllr Sally Mulready, Speaker of Hackney.

Manor Park J&P The Mass for Migrants began a day-long series of events organised by London Citizens/Citizens UK to celebrate to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its campaign for a living wage, a call which echoes the principle in Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum for a just wage.

Bishop Thomas addresses the MarchersAfter the Mass Bishop McMahon led a procession over the bridge to Westminster for the Living Wage Assembly at Methodist Central Hall, attended by representatives from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and secular organisations.

Words by Jo Siedlecka

Pictures by Chris Jepson and Davina Bolt

To read the full text of Bishop McMahon's homily click here

For a report on the Assembly go to: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=18153


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