The leader of the country's Roman Catholics has sparked a row by accusing immigrants of creating a separate church in Britain.Here's Diogenes' response at Off the Record
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.
They're Catholics. Disproportionately active Catholics. They come from Poland, bringing the habits of a pious people. Old-fashioned habits, like the blessing of homes at Christmas and food baskets at Easter, the Lenten Lamentations, the Forty Hours Devotion, the Divine Mercy prayers.
They don't speak the Queen's English, either. But that's not really the problem. Other immigrants have trouble with the language. The Poles are a special problem.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.If Polish Catholics would just act like British Catholics, maybe the cardinal would be more comfortable. And by the same logic, if a group of French chefs move to England, we should make sure that their culinary offerings blend in with the ordinary standards of British cuisine.