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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 11:55 GMT
Cardinal makes plea on immigrants
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Most immigrants come in search of a better life, the cardinal said
People should do more to welcome immigrants, the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales says.

In his Christmas address at Midnight Mass, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said he understood the need for immigration to be controlled.

However, immigrants feel "simply excluded because they are outsiders", the Archbishop of Westminster said.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called for people to look after the planet in his Christmas sermon.

'Comfort and joy'

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said in his Christmas Homily, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4, that the celebration of the birth of Christ was for everyone.

Many of these people are trying, for perfectly good reasons, to enter Britain and they need to be welcomed
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

He urged Christians to ensure that "nothing and nobody remains untouched by the tidings of comfort and joy that came from heaven on the first Christmas night".

The cardinal said: "A theme which is much in the news in Britain at the moment is the question of the many immigrant peoples who come to our country.

"Most immigrants come to our country because they wish to have a better life and work so as to provide for their families.

"What concerns me at the moment is our attitude as a nation to these many immigrants," he continued.

"Many of these people are trying, for perfectly good reasons, to enter Britain and they need to be welcomed.

"I understand that immigration needs to be controlled. However, sometimes they must feel like Joseph when he returned to Bethlehem after exile in Egypt, simply excluded because they are outsiders."

'Survival at risk'

In a Christmas morning sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury told his congregation that more effort is "clearly required of us" to live side by side.

Dr Rowan Williams said: "The whole point of creation is that there should be persons... capable of intimacy with God - not so that God can gain something, but so that these created beings may live in joy.

We don't just put our material survival at risk, more profoundly we put our spiritual sensitivity at risk
Dr Rowan Williams

"God's way of making sure that this joy is fully available is to join humanity on Earth so that human beings may recognise what they are and what they are for."

Dr Williams warned that if people threaten the planet there will be repercussions.

"When we threaten the balance of things, we don't just put our material survival at risk, more profoundly we put our spiritual sensitivity at risk - the possibility of being opened up to endless wonder by the world around us."

Respect for fellow people is also necessary, he will say.

"The delight and reverence we should have towards the things of creation is intensified many times where human relationships are concerned," he said at Canterbury Cathedral.

"And if peace is to be more than a pause in open conflict, it must be grounded in this passionate amazed reverence for others."

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Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's comments on immigrants



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