Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has called for the EU to remain a ‘union of nations’ after the UK voted to leave the bloc, urging a “tough” Brexit.
The pontiff made the comments as he attended a service at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Friday.
“The question that we must face is not only the Brexit but the question of the union of nations.
There is a great deal that can be done to make the union more durable and less volatile, to make it more stable,” Bergoglios said.
“This is the reason why I say that the union can be made more durable, that is, that it can endure the challenges of its history.”
The pontiffs remarks come after the Vatican last month called for a “no” vote on the Brexit deal, and he told a press conference that the EU needs to be seen as a “global community.”
Bergoglies remarks came after Pope Francis called for “tougher” Brexit and urged the UK to stay in the EU.
The pope also expressed concern over the “unhealthy” relationship between the UK and its neighbours.
“Our friendship must be strengthened and we must continue to look at this problem and work together to find solutions,” he said.
He said he hopes that the two countries will “continue to be the strongest partners in the world and to be in a position to defend the universal values of democracy, freedom and fraternity.”
The Pope’s comments come after he warned in February that the UK’s exit from the EU would result in a “cascade of crises” across Europe.
The Vatican also announced in March that it was cancelling the first of two visits to the UK in 2017, after the country voted to exit the EU by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.