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Bishop blames Brexit on struggles to recruit UK priests to work in EU

by Tola Mbakwe
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A senior Anglican bishop has lamented about the inconveniences he claims Brexit has caused for getting UK priests to work in the European Union.

Rt Rev Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe said since the UK left the EU, it’s meant Church of England priests have a massive amount of immigration paper work to fill out, which is expensive to submit.

He told The Times: “It is a lot of effort to get all [the documents] together in the right format, then you have to apply for a permit. And our experience is that there’s a delay of between four and 12 months approval [and then] that permit has to be renewed annually.

“But then on top there is a second visa application for bringing your spouse and children in. That is a particular stressor, because the candidate might have completed the visa and work permit application successfully, but [they] haven’t got certainty that their family is going to be able to join them.”

Bishop Robert, who is based in Belgium, wants there to be an exception for religious workers in order for the process to be smoother and faster.

He said many Anglican priests have ended up working illegally while waiting for their permits to be approved.

He told the newspaper: “The procedures are difficult and bureaucratic, time-consuming and quite distressing for those who get caught up in them.

“I think there is a case to be made for educated religious ministers to be able to move more straightforwardly, even when they don’t they don’t meet the normal income thresholds that other professional people have to meet.”

The Diocese in Europe has 280 congregations, which are called chaplaincies. They are set up in 42 European countries, plus Turkey, Morocco and Russia.

They serve as Church of England churches for those who have English as a first or second language.

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