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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 103 (Suppl.), April 2007



Rev. Dr. Richard A Burridge

Dean of King's College, London


Greetings and thanks

It is a great honour to stand here before you at this IInd World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Foreign Students and to speak to you on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of the Anglican Communion, as Dean of King’s College London.

a) The Archbishop of Canterbury

Firstly, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is probably the Anglican Church’s greatest treasure today, whose academic career and ecclesial ministry not only qualify him to lead our Communion, but also uniquely identify him with the themes of this conference.

I first met him in the mid 1980s when he was Dean of Clare College, at Cambridge University, and he appointed my daughter’s godmother as the first woman Chaplain of an Oxbridge College. A year or two later, he became the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford at the tender age of only 36 where his concern for his students, both British and international, was only surpassed by his commitment to academic theology and its importance for the churches (a passion he shares with the Holy Father). Subsequently as Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of the Church of Wales, he still never lost his interest in the academic life, in the universities and in students – something which he has continued as Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore, he would have liked to have been here himself in person at this Conference – but he has asked me to represent him and to pass on to you his deep concern for foreign students in line with the emphasis in your Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi, for the liturgical, sacramental and personal pastoral provision for international students. The Archbishop hopes that such students will have an opportunity for formation in language and cultural groups so that Christian discipleship is part of the accelerated learning experience in a foreign cultural environment.

b) The Anglican Communion

Secondly, I speak on behalf of the Anglican Communion – the third largest Christian denomination in the world, 85 million members who belong to 44 different churches around the globe. It is a family of great diversity connected with our topic of migration, since it came into being with the migration of British people throughout the world.  Like your Instruction (EMCC paragraph 89) we have to deal with unity in plurality, its problems as well as the delights and joys. If the Anglican Communion began in England, more recently there has been a shift of gravity from Britain and Europe, even from the USA, from the North in general to the newer countries of the global South: the average Anglican today is female, black and living in Africa. And yet there is also a new migration, from the South towards the North, as many migrants, workers and students alike, often with families, travel to seek a new life.

c) King's College, London

The introduction to EMCC, paragraphs 1-11, begins with human mobility and international migration today with all that entails for students. We recognize this context all too well in London and at King’s College.

Recently, there has been an enormous increase in students, with over 2 million now in British Universities, nearly half of all 17-30 year olds. Yet government funding cutbacks mean that many universities aim to increase numbers of foreign students, especially from outside Europe, since they have to pay higher fees. In 2003-4 we had over 300,000 international students, of whom 210,510 were from outside the EU – and they contribute £3 billion a year to the UK economy. Foreign students are now targeted more as a source of revenue than for their contribution to academic life. At the same time, changes in legislation about Immigration and Asylum, as well as counter-terrorist measures make visa applications and renewals, appeals and refugee requests for asylum increasingly difficult.

London is, of course, our largest and most international city. King’s College is one of the two oldest, founding Colleges of the University of London, with 20,000 students, 5,000 staff and a turnover of £1 Million every day. We currently have nearly 4,000 foreign students, over 1500 from the European Union and nearly 2,400 from outside Europe. They come from 128 different countries and the numbers rise every year. The College was founded in 1829 in the Anglican tradition by the then Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister, and it remains a College where staff and students are encouraged to practise their faith, with the current Archbishop Rowan as its Visitor, or final authority. As Dean of the whole College, I am a priest of the Church of England, responsible for our daily prayers and worship in our two beautiful old Chapels, as well as the pastoral care of our 25,000 staff and students – which increasingly includes foreigners who need to be helped with their spiritual life as much as their academic studies.


Therefore, I look forward to this Conference and to the opportunity to hear more of your experiences across the world-wide Catholic community of caring for foreign students, and perhaps to share some more of my own experience so that we can learn together how better to show the caritas Christi, the love of Christ, erga migrantes, to foreign and migrant students.

Thank you for your kind invitation to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the whole Anglican Communion, and to myself as I try to represent them. May our Lord bless our own travels together in this Conference.