Ireland and the UK can achieve more within the EU than outside it, the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor has said.
His is just one of two Catholic dioceses wholly within Northern Ireland,the other being Dromore.
“Our countries have freely joined the European enterprise. It is a project, a highly calibrated political architecture, unique on the face of the earth and in human history,” he said. “It will develop and reform like all human institutions. Our countries can achieve more within than without. If it were to leave, in the words of the Irish Council of Churches, ‘the UK would move from the role of an active participant to that of a passive observer.’”
Bishop Treanor said the value of the European project “cannot be measured in net billion gains alone” and that the union’s “vision for Europe’s peoples and nations and for the world, rather than billions, is its saving grace”.
"The European project is not a monstrous bureaucracy", he said, "it is a serious and honourable attempt to realise that aspiration for a world governance authority at the service of the common good of the human family, set out by Pope John XXIII in his 1963 encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris."
He said many “among us feel confused and uncertain” ahead of the referendum on Thursday as the recent debate had involved an avalanche of competing figures and viewpoints.
He said the murder of English MP Jo Cox was an act that "contradicted totally the aspirations of our new Europe".
“Yet notwithstanding all that the EEC and the EU have achieved and delivered, despite the fact that it is much envied beyond its borders, despite its prophetic character for future configuration of global governance and politics, for many reasons it is something of a victim of its own success.”
He said "greater courage is needed on the part of our political classes to communicate the achievements" of Europe.
Bishop Traenor worked with the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) in Brussels from 1989 and was its secretary general for many years prior to his appopintmdent as Bishop of Down and Connor in 2008.