The call came from the Archbishop of York on the opening day of the General Synod when senior clergy discussed the fallout from the June 23 Brexit vote.
Dr John Sentamu said he was with a group of 34 teenagers from Holy Trinity Academy in Barnsley and from Archbishop Holgate’s Academy in York on pilgrimage at Taizé in France when the result became apparent.
“I witnessed utter shock, sadness and anger of young people from our own country who in the few days they had been there had reached out in friendship and fellowship with other European young Christians,” he told the Synod.
“To them it seemed to make no sense at all. They found themselves having to apologise repeatedly how sorry they were. There is a sense of unreality about the days in which we are living.
“Worst of all, those who habitually look out for any excuse for xenophobic extremism and racist violence have seized upon this as legitimation – as an encouragement for their activities.”
Dr Sentamu says hope is provided by the reconciliation that has taken place in post-apartheid South Africa.
“Total transformation means the changing of lives so that the maladies that cause division are eliminated – total transformation based on renewal as was the case in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s restorative justice in the South African context,” he added.
“And Nelson Mandela’s encouragement of Black people, particularly the young, to focus their rage into acts of reconciliation. Similarly I appeal to all young people in England to do the same.”