In an article for the Catholic Herald Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said leaving the EU was a 'huge step' in British history

We must not be “prophets of gloom” over Brexit, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has said.

Writing in this week’s Catholic Herald, the former Archbishop of Westminster compares Brexit to the “seismic event” of the Second Vatican Council.

“We have just detonated another kind of seismic event in the history of our country,” he writes.

“Leaving the EU is a huge step in our history and, like General Councils of the Church, the consequences will take many years to unravel. But, as Pope John said to the assembled bishops in 1962, we must not be prophets of gloom,” he writes.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, who had argued for remaining in the European Union, says “we have now an opportunity, and an obligation to address the result of the referendum, not as partisans of Leave or Remain but as citizens of a great democratic exercise which stands for certain principles and values”.

He quotes the Book of Proverbs, which says “without vision the people perish”, and continues: “Without a positive vision not only for Britain apart from the European Union but also of a Britain still close to Europe, all Europeans will be diminished and less able to contribute to that stability and peace we all desire.”

In an article for the Spectator in May the cardinal said he wanted Britain to be “part of the European community and cooperate … to build a union that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

He said that the EU needed “reform and renewal” but that Brexit would make this “even more difficult”.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols had also signalled his support for Britain staying in the EU. He said last month: “Our main concern will be to continue to keep an eye on and [give] practical help for the poorest, whose circumstances will probably worsen in the next two or three years.”