on Wednesday, 28 August 2019 at 1.05 pm
by Simon Sarmiento (Thinking Anglicans)
A group of Church of England bishops has issued an open letter on the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and the need for national reconciliation, notwithstanding the potential prorogation of Parliament.The full text and list of signatories can be found here: Bishops issue open letter on Brexit.
This follows after the announcement yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been asked to chair a proposed “Citizens’ Forum” on Brexit. His public response to this is online: Archbishop Justin Welby’s response to invitation to chair Citizens’ Forum on Brexit.
“It is an unexpected privilege to be asked to chair this proposed Citizens’ Forum on Brexit. In the past this kind of gathering has, in many places and in difficult situations, opened the way for careful deliberation if at the right time and genuinely representative.
“I am honoured to be approached and would be willing to accept in principle, subject to some conditions which have not yet been met. The main three are first, and indispensably, that the forum should not be a Trojan horse intended to delay or prevent Brexit in any particular form. That power can only be exercised by the government and MPs in parliament. A forum must be open to all possibilities. Second, that it has cross party support (although its members will not be politicians). Third, the process must have time to be properly organised.
“Jesus Christ is the source of reconciliation and healing for individuals and society. It is obviously right that among many others the churches should contribute to the emergence of a dynamic and united country post-Brexit, however it may be achieved. Every one of us must play the part they can in this task.
“The need for national healing and eventually for a move towards reconciliation is essential, and will take much time, a deep commitment to the common good, and contributions from every source. This Forum is only one of many different efforts being made inside the political world and across the country before and after Brexit. Every effort counts.
“Let us pray for all those in government, parliament and political leadership. Let us pray for the people of this country whose lives will be affected in many ways by the momentous decisions that are made.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most. Revd. Justin Welby, has plenty of experience in conflict resolution – stemming, mainly from his previous life as an oil company executive.
Having also been a member of Coventry Cathedral’s ministry Team of Healing and Reconciliation, Archbishop Welby is well equipped to take up the position of chairing a forum of discussion on the Brexit situation. As Head of the national Church of England, his gifts of negotiation of the conditions relevant to either the exit from or maintenance of continuing membership of the European Union could be useful to both sides of the arguments.
His eirenic direction of the conversation could be vital to a satisfactory outcome – whatever that outcome might prove to be.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand