The principal leader of the Church of England has declared the European Union (EU) “the greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Western Roman Empire”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made the statement in a speech to the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Serbia on Sunday.
“[The EU] has brought peace, prosperity, compassion for the poor and weak, purpose for the aspirational, and hope for all its people,” he claimed.
He also highlighted how there are “Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and many of no faith at all” in European now, arguing:
“That diversity is one of the gifts of the Europe of the EU, but to live with that diversity must call for the gift of reconciliation through the church.”
Returning to Brexit, he seemed to link the vote to bigotry, attacking “the rise of Euroscepticism, the flames of which are fanned by ‘scare stories’ about migration and refugees”, according to the Church Times.
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Also in the speech, he seemed to implied Brexit could harm the entire continent. “The fact that Christianity survived in Europe does not indicate that it is indestructible, but that God protects the Church that he created and loves,” he said.
The Archbishop, who sided with the Remain side during the referendum campaign, acknowledged the bloc faces many problems but said he was hopeful it would survive, as well as saying the UK was “attempting” to leave, implying it may not.
“Europe is not in danger of falling. And there is no sense in which I suggest that Brexit or other crises currently around will derail the European Union or bring about the downfall of Europe.”
He added: “But Europe, like other parts of the world, is in a fragile phase. Current geopolitical uncertainty is unsettling. In my part of the continent, there is a nation attempting to leave the EU, on the other edges of the EU such as here there are countries and peoples keen to get in.”