MIGRANTS' DAY is to be observed next Thursday, December 3. the Feast of St Francis Xavier in England and Wales: but it has been requested also that migrants, people driven from their homes by political and other pressures, should be mentioned in the Bidding Prayers at Masses this Sunday.
Bishop Geoffrey Burke. Chairman of the National Council of Migration. who has requested this. said that in an age of unprecedented human upheaval. there were 35,000.000 migrants in Western Europe alone. There were an estimated 148,000 refugees in England and Wales. as well as about 3,000,000 people who were born ou tside the United Kingdom.
Pope John Paul, in a message for Migrant's Day. has drawn the attention of bishops ti world-wide to the importance of preserving the cultural identity cif migrants wherever they might he.
He quoted from that part of the Encyclical. Gaudivnt et spec, which says: "It is not t 'he function of public authority to determine what the proper nature of forms of human culture sh ould be. It should rather foster the con
ditions and the means which are capable of promoting cultural life among all citizens and even within the minorities of a nation."
Commenting on this, he said the essential components of the cultural identity of migrants also included the way in which they professed their faith and practised their religion. He urged that the Church locally should respond to the need also to ensure that migrants were thoroughly incorporated into the living fabric of the host nation, and especially the ecclesial community. Only thus could conflict and tension be avoided.