POPE Francis has waded into the debate over whether Britain should sever ties with Brussels, saying he wants the UK to STAY part of Europe.
In a rare political intervention which is bound to anger Eurosceptic campaigners, one of the Vatican’s top diplomats said the Holy See thinks Britain is “better in than out”.
Wading into the EU referendum debate, the cleric said Francis wants Britain to stay in the 28-nation bloc so that it can prop up other countries and “make a stronger Europe”.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See, said he favours an “in” result.
He told the channel: “The Holy See respects the ultimate decision of the British people – that’s for the British electorate to decide.
“But I think we would see it as being something that is not going to make a stronger Europe.
When pressed, he concluded that the Catholic Church’s view would be “better in than out”.
The move puts the Vatican in an unlikely alliance with the investment bankers of Goldman Sachs.
Responding to the Vatican position, a spokesman for Leave.EU said even Catholics would find the statement distasteful.
He said: “I expect the British people will completely ignore and forget the Vatican Foreign Secretary’s confessional.
What on earth has EU membership got to do with the Roman Catholic church as a faith or the Vatican as a City state?
“If being in the EU is so important to the strength of Europe what has Archbishop Gallagher to say to the 23 states that are not in the EU – including of course the Vatican City itself?
“His intervention will not influence a single vote, indeed it might be counterproductive and convince some that Church and state are best kept separated and there are times when the Vatican would be better keeping its counsel to itself.”