(Vatican Radio) Britain’s decision to leave the European Union after voting in a referendum last month has left the world reeling.
The fallout from Brexit has sparked a feeling of uncertainty throughout Europe and many fear that other European countries will follow suit.
Catholic aid agency, Caritas Europa, published a statement expressing its concern that “our core European values are being threatened” and it’s urging all factions of society to act together.
Vatican Radio’s Georgia Gogarty spoke with Jorge Nuño Mayer, the Secretary General of Caritas Europa, to found out more about the effects Brexit will have on the work Caritas does.
Mayer said that at the moment we cannot measure what the effects of Brexit will be. However he did reiterate that the main concern of Caritas Europa will be to prevent increased poverty both in Europe and Britain.
He said “we want to build bridges” and “we need more dialogue”, stressing that the referendum discussion inside the UK show a divide, and that “people are not listened to by politicians and the real concerns of the people are not being taken into account”. He said that Brexit is “one symptom more of many where there is a gap between the political decision and the needs of the people”.
When asked if Europe has started to experience the ramifications of Brexit, Mayer said that “what people want now is clarity”. He stressed the importance that civil society, and Christians in particular, have a role to play in ensuring that “people are better listened to”.
A major concern of Caritas Europa is that core European values of solidarity and social justice are being undermined by the pressure for economic growth in Europe. To ensure that European values are upheld, Mayer said “it is important that when economic decisions are being taken there must be an assessment; what impact will the decision have on people?”.
In a statement Pope Francis said that Brexit leaves Europe with a “great responsibility” to ensure a peaceful co-existence between Britain and the EU. Mayer echoed this statement saying that “regardless of the legal framework for Britain, we need all Europeans to work together”.
Caritas, Mayer stressed, has a responsibility together with the whole of Europe, not just the European Union, to not sever ties but instead to “strengthen the relationships between countries, between cultures, between languages: to show we really are one human family”.