Anglican angst over Brexit

Welsh, Scottish and Irish Anglican leaders have voiced their disquiet over last week’s vote to withdraw from the European Union. Like their counterparts in the Church of England, the majority of bishops urged voters to support the Remain camp.  In a statement released while on pilgrimage to the Somme battlefields, the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev. Richard Clarke said “While I am personally disappointed at the outcome of the UK referendum, nothing should deflect people across the island of Ireland from focusing on good relations with one another and ensuring that any sense of division is avoided at this time.” The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson noted: “At this time of considerable uncertainty for the people of Ireland following the outcome of the referendum on continuing EU membership in the United Kingdom, our hopes and prayers are for stability and clarity in finding the best path forward. Many people in Ireland fear the impact that this momentous decision will have on their lives in ways that are still incalculable and unknown. We pray for wisdom and foresight on the part of those who lead us politically, socially and economically and for those who will negotiate on our behalf on how best to express and fulfil our role in Ireland within the European Union.” The bishops of the Church in Wales also urged calm and reflection. “As Christians we hold to the Gospel values of truthfulness, inclusion, and respect; and so after the passionate debate, we pray for reconciliation amongst the divided factions in our nations, communities and families,” they said on 24 June 2016, adding: “We pray for the United Kingdom and for our partners in Europe and the rest of the world at this time of uncertainty, as we continue to work together to build a just and peaceful future in which all people can flourish.” Speaking on “Thought for the Day” on BBC Radio Scotland, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth said: “So now we know. There is some sense of an end point. But this leave result really marks the beginning of a long period – a time for working out of the implications of the choice which the people have made. That will occupy us for years to come. It’s another beginning too – the beginning of the process by which we find healing after a bruising Referendum Campaign. It’s part of the way we do things that there are some issues so important that we should ‘let the people decide’. But as the campaign has run its course over the past weeks and months, there has been growing concern about whether that has led to a tendency to over-simplify complex issues and to political debate which has at times been fractious and angry. We may regret this – but it also shows how important this choice has been. So now we have to put it all together again.” This means building relationships, he said. “It means that, in the period of difficulty and uncertainty into which we are entering, our elected representatives express clarity but have the courage to be flexible. To fight the political battles with passion – that’s what politicians are for. But they must also build the agreements which bring measured and ordered movement. That’s what the people who have voted now need.”


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