I am writing to draw to your attention a very important statement recently released by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
‘The Catholic Church in England and Wales stands in solidarity with all EU citizens who have made their home here. As the majority are themselves Catholic this is a special pastoral concern for us. The Church has experienced first-hand the extensive contribution that people from across Europe have made to our society. They are an integral and valued part of our parishes, schools and communities. We also recognise the evidence immigration from Europe has not undermined opportunities for UK citizens, but rather brought considerable economic and social benefits. It is clear that since the 2016 referendum many people living her have faced profound uncertainty and insecurity about their future.
Although the reassurances offered by senior politicians are important, people have been given far too little information or binding commitments about their right to stay. For some this has been worsened by the appalling rise in hate crime, which has left them feeling unwelcome or even threatened in the country that has become their home.
The Settlement Scheme
The government will soon launch a Settlement Scheme, offering EU citizens living here a legal route to remain.
While this is an important step we understand that, especially for people who have contributed to our society over many years, it may feel unjust and divisive that they are now required to apply for permission to stay.
We also expect that some people, particularly those who are already vulnerable, may face difficulties in practically accessing the scheme, leaving their immigration status at risk.
Applying for the scheme
Notwithstanding our concerns about these principles and practicalities, it remains a fact the EU citizens must apply if they are to protect their existing rights and their place in our society.
We therefore ask Catholic parishes, schools and organisations to bring the Settlement Scheme to the attention of all who need to avail of it and to be aware of vulnerable people who may face barriers to applying or not realise that they need to apply.
In particular we encourage you to signpost people towards the official information on the Settlement Scheme
And to make use of the various information resources available here
Finally we urge the whole Catholic community to take up Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and help to integrate everyone who has made their home here – with particular concern at present for our European brothers and sisters’.