(Vatican Radio) In Britain on Friday, religious leaders called for respect, generosity, courage and humility in the wake of the referendum that showcased a deeply divided nation. Almost 52 percent of voters chose to leave the European Union in Thursday's ballot, with just over 48 percent voting to remain.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales, echoed the words of Pope Francis as he spoke of respecting “the will of the people, expressed at the ballot box”. Speaking of the demanding challenges ahead, he said “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 employers and human traffickers.
The cardinal added: “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 in our world today.”
The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu also issued a joint statement following the so-called Brexit vote stressing the responsibility of political leaders as they decide upon the next steps to be taken.
The two Anglican leaders said that as citizens of the United Kingdom, “we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one”.