The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has called for more “realism” and “respect” in immigration debate.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Cardinal Vincent Nichols condemned politicians for deploying what he termed “alarmist” language in the debate over immigration.
He also warned against the use of arguments which stoke up “distress” about foreigners coming to the UK.
Cardinal Nichols said immigration was good for Britain’s national “well-being” in addition to providing money through remittances to support poor people in different parts of the world.
“What I would appeal today is that the debate about immigration is done with a sense of realism and a sense of respect – and that it is not cushioned in expressions which are alarmist and evocative of anger or of dismay or distress at all these people coming to this country,” Cardinal Nichols said.
He appealed to all to celebrate the contribution of immigrants to the British society.
“We have to grow to appreciate the richness that immigration brings, not simply to the Catholic church but to the life of hospitals and many public sector areas where we are now embracing and dependent on people who come to this country willing to give and wanting to support their families back home,” Cardinal Nichols said.
Cardinal Nichols spoke after visiting Giuseppe Conlon House, a Catholic-run refuge in London together with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He criticised the UK asylum system saying that many people are being “crippled” by the system during the long wait for a verdict which can take up to seven years. “They will get vouchers for food but all other aspects of life are closed off to them,” Cardinal Nichols said. “That creates tremendous personal and health issues for people who are waiting. They just live with this profound sense of uncertainty for year after year after year.”