[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Church of England’s General Synod has this evening (Friday) called on all members of the Church to “play their part” in the “common task of building a generous and forward looking country”. The call came following an emergency debate on a motion added to the Synod’s agenda by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in response to the recent referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union.
“It is perfectly clear that the result and the referendum campaign exposed deep divisions in our society, of which we were aware already,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said. “They are especially complex because they are divisions, in part, about our identity as a nation, whether in England or other parts of the UK. And identity is always more difficult to deal with than issue-driven politics. . .
“The result has released a latent racism and xenophobia in all sectors, and challenges the prevailing consensus of tolerance and acceptance, thus threatening other areas of welcome liberalisation. And . . . we are going to face a period of profound uncertainty.”
The Archbishop said that tackling inequality in the UK was essential to respond to the fears and anxieties that had arisen during the campaign. He said that an increase in child poverty was one of the signs that “inequality is growing in our land.”
He added: “Greater equality seeks the common good, and opens opportunities for aspiration in all households. The shock of Brexit must be one that forces us into a juster and a fairer society, and a more equal one.”
The Archbishop called for a renewed commitment to education, public health, and housing; and “a forward foreign policy that is based in development and love for the poor, those caught in conflict and suffering around the world.”
He concluded: “The outbursts of the last two weeks may pass, but the signal has been set at danger for our cohesion, and the Church must respond with a fresh effort in integration.”
The motion adopted by the Synod commended “the work already carried out by the Church in bringing communities together” and suggested that each diocese appoint “a champion . . . to assess what more the Church could do and to make recommendations for creating stronger and more constructive links between local communities.”
- Click here to read the full text of Archbishop Welby’s speech