In a brief interview with journalists aboard the papal plane to Armenia this weekend, Pope Francis touched on the recent UK referendum in which citizens opted to withdraw from the European Union (EU), saying that it represented “the will of the people.”
The Pope said that he only learned of the outcome of the referendum on the plane since the last time he had consulted prior to leaving the Vatican, the final results were not yet in.
Nonetheless, Francis expressed no personal opinion regarding the result of the Brexit vote, other than affirming it to be the will of the people. According to Catholic teaching, participation in government is “one of the pillars of all democratic orders and one of the major guarantees of the permanence of the democratic system” and the will of the people, except where it contravenes natural justice, is to be respected.
Pope Francis added that the Brexit vote “demands of us all a great responsibility for ensuring the good of the people of the United Kingdom.”
He said that it demands a similar responsibility for ensuring “the good and the coexistence of the entire European continent” but notably declined to speak of the European Union in this case.
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