The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have said the British decision to leave the European Union “must be respected” and that, after an “often rancorous campaign”, all should work towards regaining a “mutual respect and civility” that is “so important in our national conversation”.
Meanwhile Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference, said Brexit would be “demanding on all” and that the British people should now “work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbours”.
The bishops’ statement, signed by Fr Christopher Thomas, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, noted that over 33 million people had voted and a majority “have agreed that the future of the United Kingdom is best served outside the EU”.
It said: “This decision must be respected whatever our personal views and we should seek to regain the mutual respect and civility, so important in our national conversation.
“As people of hope, now is the time to reflect and pray as we take up our challenge to promote justice and peace, with a responsibility for the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable,” the statement said.
The statement then quoted a “prayer for Europe” by the late Italian Jesuit, Cardinal Maria Martini.
Father of mankind, Lord of history,
watch over Europe
to whom you have sent philosophers, legislators, wise people,
forerunners in faith of your Son, who has died and has risen again.
Watch over these peoples, evangelised by Peter and Paul,
by the prophets, by the monks, by the saints;
watch over these regions watered by the blood of the martyrs
and touched by the voice of the Reformers.
Watch over the peoples united by so many ties
but also divided, over time, by hatred and war.
Help us working for a Europe of the Spirit
founded not only on economic agreements,
but also on human and eternal values.
A Europe capable of ethnic and ecumenical reconciliations,
ready to welcome the stranger, respectful of each person’s dignity.
Grant that we assume our duty with hope
to inspire and promote an understanding among peoples
which ensures in all the continents,
justice and bread, freedom and peace.