Bishops visit European Union to deepen links with the Church in Europe

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Bishops from England and Wales met with representatives from European Union institutions to listen and convey issues of concern at a key time in negotiations for the UK’s exit.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson led a delegation from the department of international affairs of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, made up of Bishop Tom Burns, Bishop Paul McAleenan and Bishop William Kenney to Brussels. As well as meeting with officials and representatives of the various institutions, the delegation heard about the extensive advocacy work undertaken by Comece on behalf of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU.

The issues raised by the bishops centred on:

The importance of upholding human rights in all trade deals Prisoner transfer rights Northern Ireland and border issues with the Republic of Ireland Rights of EU nationals in the UK and UK citizens in European countries.

The delegation also met with the Apostolic Nuncio to the EU, Archbishop Alain Lebeaupin, Comece Vice President Bishop Jean Kockerels and general secretary of the Conference of European Churches Fr Heikki Huttunen.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson, bishop with responsibility for European issues, said:

“This has been a fascinating and informative visit. I must thank Brother Olivier Poquillon and his team at Comece for their generous reception and also the important role they play.

“The UK is still part of the EU and during the transitional period before the UK leaves there are vital issues to resolve. We will also continue to have a relationship with the EU and its institutions in the future so these face-face meetings are invaluable.

“Essentially we must always promote the human and insist that the human is put at the centre of the European project and the policies adopted by its institutions, affecting all European citizens. It is important to remember that we will remain part of Europe even when the UK leaves the European Union.”