Immigration to the UK is helping to revive religion in Britain, according to Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic said that new Christian arrivals in the UK were both increasing congregation numbers and helping native-born Britons to get back in touch with their faiths. He believes that ultimately, immigration will help to boost social cohesion via religion because it will bring people with different backgrounds together.
Cardinal Nichols told The Daily Telegraph: “We are a mixed race, we are an island and people arrive here from all over the world and they bring different talents and readiness … you can’t separate them you have to take the reality of Catholic life as it is today.
“It is enormously enriched by those who come here … the faith is a huge point of social cohesion, that people from different strata in society and different cultural backgrounds come together.”
He spoke out as the Catholic Church prepares to launch a new campaign to attract people across England and Wales to the church. Each parish is to have its own team to come up with new ideas to spread the Catholic message.
One of the key routes appears to be via Catholic migrants arriving in the UK, whose faith the Cardinal says will rub off on ‘weary Westerners’.
“We should take great heart from the fact that we are discovering again, under that impetus, some of our own wellsprings of faith,” he said.
Although figures from the latest UK census in 2011 show that the number of people in England and Wales identifying themselves as Christian fell by more than four million or 10 per cent in 10 years, migrant Christians have played an important part in keeping up the numbers. They include 1.2 million Christians who were born abroad, such as evangelicals from Africa and Catholics from Poland.