Anglican, Catholic Leaders Call for Unity and Love for Refugees After UK Votes for Brexit

Supporters of the Stronger In Campaign react as results of the EU referendum are announced at the Royal Festival Hall, in London, June 24, 2016. |
Part of a flotilla of fishing vessels campaigning to leave the European Union sails past Parliament on the river Thames in London, England, June 15, 2016. |
Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), makes a statement after Britain voted to leave the European Union in London, Britain, June 24, 2016. |
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Both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales have urged the United Kingdom to continue showing compassion and generosity toward strangers in need despite the results of Thursday's national referendum, in which British citizens voted to leave the European Union.

"As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, 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," the CofE wrote in its official response to the referendum.

"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," it added.

British citizens voted 52 to 48 percent to leave the EU, with concerns over open borders and massive flows of immigration serving as one of the main factors behind the decision.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (2L), Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (C), Imam Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra (2R) and Sayeeda Warsi (R) react together at the close of a vigil outside Westminster Abbey in central London September 3, 2014. Religious leaders attended the vigil to unite against human rights violations in Iraq. |

While UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who led the campaign to leave the EU, said the decision is rooted in Britain's strive for political and economic independence, other prominent political leaders, such as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, argued that issues of immigration played a major role in the vote.

"People are angry all over the world. They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are," Trump said about the referendum results.

"They're angry about many, many things in the U.K., the U.S. and many other places. This will not be the last."

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the EU, announced his resignation on Friday morning, signaling that a new leader will take charge of the transitioning process.

Anglican archbishops called on Christians in the country to pray for Cameron and leaders across Britain and Europe as they come to terms with the "dramatic change."

"Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world," the statement added.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, also urged Britain not to turn its back to people in need.

"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," Nichols wrote.

"We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy," he added.

"We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbours and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems of our world today."

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