A leading Scottish church official said the Church will “bridge the gap” between both sides in the wake of Scotland’s decision to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Fr Tom Boyle, assistant general secretary to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, also exhorted Catholics to remain engaged in political issues.
“There is obviously great disappointment for people who voted yes and we’ve got to try and bridge that gap for the people in the pews and the general public as well,” said Fr Boyle.
“Whatever hurt there is, particularly on the part of those who were defeated, any animosity from the debates, that’s something we hope will be healed quite quickly.
“Scots are good at pulling together,” he added.
According to the BBC, 55% of voters backed the No campaign against 45% on the Yes side. The referendum also saw a high turnout of 85% of the electorate.
Fr Boyle said the bishops’ conference was delighted with the level of political engagement demonstrated by the country’s Catholic population.
“The whole country has been talking about this. The fantastic turnout shows the vast majority of Scots have been engaged. We want people to continue to engage in political issues, which benefit from having Christian values applied to them,” said Fr Boyle.
“The values of Catholic social teaching can have an impact on political life in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
Fr Boyle suggested that Catholics remain politically engaged by running for local councils and contributing to public debates.
He also stressed that areas of social justice such as benefit reforms and pro-life issues could benefit from a Catholic input in the public sphere.
“That’s the vision of the Second Vatican Council: that ordinary lay Catholics can be salt for the earth in the political forum,” he said.
Looking to the future, Fr Boyle was keen that the Church could continue to inform public debates with moral and spiritual insights.
“That’s one of the big challenges of today: that the voice of Christianity can be heard in the public square. We hope that all Catholics who’ve been engaged with the referendum continue speaking out for values we know to be true and which reflect the values of God’s kingdom,” he said.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said that both sides could be proud of the way people participated in the debate.
“I think people understand the disappointment and the sadness of those who campaigned for independence but I think beyond that there’s a sense that they can be very proud of the campaign,” he said.
“Every man woman and child was engaged in the debate about the future of our nation.”
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