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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Migrants welcome
On Sunday 06 May Andrew Marr interviewed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster

ANDREW MARR: Welcome Cardinal.

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Thank you very much.

ANDREW MARR: Thank you for coming in. Now this campaign, there's a big march in London tomorrow under the banner "Strangers into Citizens" is that right?


But I, I, I should say that my role in all this is essentially a pastoral one as a bishop. The church has to be concerned with asylum seekers or with, with migrants.

And so before that march I'll be offering mass in Westminster Cathedral for the large number of people, many of ... many of migrants are Catholics to, to, and can now be saying to them "You're welcome.

You, you have dignity and we want that your rights and you're respected as you're living here".

Now some of them are here illegally. Ah well that's a matter that the government have got to, have got to look at. But from our point of view, illegal or legal, they should be welcomed, treated with respect - if we, if we want their work, and we do - 'cause many of the jobs they do are, are dirty and difficult and dangerous, then we've got to respect the worker and give the worker, the man or woman, whoever he or she may be, the respect and the rights that they value.

ANDREW MARR: When people hear the thought that they might be citizens, then one of the objections will be well if you, if you have an amnesty for half a million people you get another half a million people.

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: I don't think that's true. I think what we're dealing with here are the people already here. I think the government must decide how many people they allow, inverted commas, they allow in. There are two hundred million migrants all round the world. It's a huge number. And I think states now are realising they've got to look at this in a very, in a very just way.

And so I think what we're looking at tomorrow, particularly are the half a million who are undocumented migrants who are here in Britain. Many of them have been here for years. And so I think a way's got to be found whereby they can become citizens and have the advantages of that. And that's the advantages for this country as well. Many of them are married, settled down and so they live in a kind of shadow land. That's not right and it's not fair.

ANDREW MARR: Now a lot of people will you know, will not want them to be given an amnesty but interestingly there's, there's a sort of, there's people on the left and on the right. There's Conservative and Labour and Liberal supporters and the Citizens Organising Foundation which embraces lots of different faith groups too.

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Yes that's right. I mean I think there are a lot of people who will say, well there's right and left. People will say we've got too many immigrants. People will say no, we need more because of our economy.

I think, one point I think I'd like to make is that the immigrants that come, many from countries that are very poor, they send back their money to their families back at home, and therefore they are helping their own countries to, to come out of poverty and injustice.

ANDREW MARR: Course once upon a time this was the case for a lot of Irish people ..


ANDREW MARR: .. in England and Scotland who were sending money back. Now Ireland's a boom economy. Just because everyone's talking about the Blair legacy at the moment, what's your feeling, particularly, I mean I think everybody would say that what's happened in Northern Ireland was one of the most important things on the plus side.

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: I think so. What Tony Blair and others have done, have stuck at it over the years to try, endeavour to have a reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland and, and it's well on the way.

I'm delighted, delighted for Tony Blair, the end of his, his reign that the, the, the, the new assembly as it were, and to see Ian Paisley and McGuinness sitting down together, I think is, it's not only good for Northern Ireland itself, it's a pointer to other parts of the world where people live at enmity with each other to say there can be reconciliation. There can be peace. So I think it's very, it's, it's very good.

ANDREW MARR: I mean you've put a lot of effort into this. Do you think that the fact that he was, is a man of faith, a Christian, helped him in bringing two divided Christian communities together?

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Well I think that, that Tony Blair's faith, his, his Christian commitment does help, yes. He's a man who prays. He's a religious man. He believes in God. He, he, in fact I'm quite sure that his religious commitment which he doesn't wear openly on his sleeve, but quietly and unobtrusively, I think that's had a very great effect on ...

ANDREW MARR: Some people say that he'll, he'll join your church in due course.


ANDREW MARR: Would he be, would he be welcome?

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Anyone who wants to join the Catholic church for the right reasons of course would be, would be welcome. And but whether Tony Blair will or not, well we'll wait and see. That's up to him. For my part you know reading the papers today, you see all sorts of opinions about Tony Blair, how he's done over the last ten years ..

ANDREW MARR: How do you think history will remember him?

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Well perhaps more kindly than, than many people do today. And it's not been a bad ten years. Of course there've been, there have been mistakes. But I think that in many ways Tony Blair has been, has - I was just talking to someone recently who said ... this lady said to me "I am sorry Tony Blair's going. It's a difficult country to run and he's done his best" and I think he has.

ANDREW MARR: Right. Turning to the, to your own church, the, there's a new, there's a return of the old mass, the Tridentine mass going back to, the Latin mass which so many people in the Catholic church want it to come back. But there is a controversy about it isn't there because it, it does pray for the conversion or asks for the conversion of the Jews. And in these interfaith times quite a lot of Jewish people are worried about that.

CORMAC MURPHY-O'CONNOR: Yes. Well I think that in - I'm quite sure that those who want this old rite back would make sure that at least things like that, which in fact were very offensive to, to the Jewish people, would be removed. And I would want to make sure that it did.

Because the word I think was used, you know the pray for perfidious Jews, that would be totally wrong and, and I'm sure all of us would want to see that go.

If the, the old mass as I say, it's already used in many, in many parts. And we are allowed to use it in many of our churches. But it's a very small number that want to have the old rite. And I think Pope Benedict wants to recognise this and perhaps to extend it. But I think things like that regarding some of the elements of the old rite indeed should remain out of the old rite.

ANDREW MARR: All right. Well Cardinal thank you very much indeed as ever for coming in today.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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