The Catholic primate of England and Wales called for the rights of illegal immigrant workers in the UK to be respected.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the archbishop of Westminster, said he does not want to encourage illegal immigration but he believes more attention should be paid to the fair treatment of undocumented migrants in the country, reported Relevant News.
"We know that there are up to half a million immigrants who are undocumented and therefore, it is my view, and I think the view of many, many others, that some way should be found for these undocumented people who work in our country, who contribute to our economy, that their rights should be respected," he told BBC Radio 4 Today program.
The interview aired before the cardinal presided at a multilingual Mass in Westminster Cathedral in central London for migrant workers, followed by a procession and rally. The cardinal and the Anglican bishop of Southwark, Dr. Tom Butler, addressed the rally in Trafalgar Square.
The Strangers into Citizens campaign is pressing for a one-time amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living in the UK.
Under the proposals, refused asylum seekers or visa overstayers, who have been in the country for four years or more, would qualify for a two-year work permit with no access to benefits.
Those qualifying for the work permit could remain at the end of the two-year period, subject to criteria, such as an English test, no criminal record and employer and sponsor references.
The campaigners argue that such a scheme would end exploitation of illegal immigrants and the undercutting of British workers. It would also mean the British state could increase tax revenues.
A recent report by the Von Hugel Institute found that the Catholic Church in the capital is ministering to thousands of illegal immigrants.