Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference, has said the British decision to leave the European Union sets the country “on a new course that will be demanding on all”.
The cardinal called for Britain to work hard to be “good neighbours” and “resolute contributors” to international efforts tackling the world’s problems.
He prayed that, on this new course, the most vulnerable would be protected and the “finest traditions of generosity” upheld.
The cardinal said: “A great tradition of the United Kingdom is to respect the will of the people, expressed at the ballot box. Today we set out on a new course that will be demanding on all.
“Our prayer is that all will work in this task with respect and civility, despite deep differences of opinion. We pray that in this process the most vulnerable will be supported and protected, especially those who are easy targets for unscrupulous employees and human traffickers.
“We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy.
“We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbours and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems our world today.”