If only the Polish immigrants would hold their religion cheap in keeping with good English custom.

From the Telegraph (UK):

The leader of the country’s Roman Catholics has sparked a row by accusing immigrants of creating a separate church in Britain.

  Worshippers outside a packed Polish Catholic Church in London
Crowded out: Worshippers outside a packed Polish Catholic Church in London

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, urged the Polish community to do more to learn English and integrate into local parishes, claiming the Catholic Church in the UK was in danger of dividing along ethnic lines as the number of Polish-speaking churches rose.

Leading Polish community figures said they felt “violated” and “spiritually raped” by his words and called for talks on the issue.

New research, revealed last week by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that an influx of eastern Europeans boosts numbers attending Mass above those at Church of England Sunday services.

The research ended a momentous week which saw Tony Blair formally convert to Catholicism, while official figures to be released in the new year will show a rise in Mass attendance in 2006.

The number of churchgoers fell 40 per cent between 1963 and 1991, but the arrival of immigrants from Catholic countries in eastern Europe halted the decline and led to an increase in weekly Mass attendance from 917,500 in 2005 to 927,154 last year.

However, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said: “I’m quite concerned that the Poles are creating a separate church in Britain. I would want them to be part of the Catholic life of this country.

“I would hope those responsible for the Polish church here, and the Poles themselves, will be aware that they should become a part of local parishes as soon as possible when they learn enough of the language.”

Despite the archbishop’s also using his Christmas message to appeal to the nation to be more welcoming to immigrants, Grazyna Sikorska, of the Polish Catholic Mission for England and Wales, said the community had been upset.

She told the Catholic newspaper The Tablet: “How can he demand that we stop praying in Polish? Is it a sin? I feel my inner conscience has been violated, leaving me spiritually raped.”

Fr Tadeusz Kukla, the vicar-delegate for Poles in England and Wales, said: “If we lose our national identity, we lose everything.”

A spokesman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said the archbishop was keen to work with the Polish chaplaincy. “He believes the Polish community contributes greatly to the Church in this country, but closer collaboration would make it even more effective.”

As an aside: The French bishops had a similar problem with the Motu Proprio. It seems that the majority of churchgoers in France were SSPX traditionalists. Everyone else stayed home. The prospect of regularizing the schismatics position in the Church in France horrified the bishops because they were afraid they would be in charge of a flock that was “dragging the Church back in time.”