Monsignor Noel Treanor, secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, called for "discernment on the part of both politicians and citizens," in a statement released today.
Although the "no" vote is "multifarious," and not indicative of an "outright rejection of the European project," it does express "genuine apprehension concerning social, economic and security issues in the member states, and questions the adequacy of EU policy in these regards," said the statement.
"It sounds a warning on limitless enlargement of the EU," and the fears of Europe's citizens "require courageous and coherent responses on the part of our political leaders both at the national and European levels," he said.
"It underlines the need to develop transparency, legitimacy and participation in the system of governance," continued the statement. "New ways of communicating the purpose of the European project itself and the process of European policy-making will have to be devised.
"To be credible and owned by the European citizen, European policymaking has to be clearly rooted in a value system that respects and promotes Europe's heritage."
Down but not out
The rejection of the constitution, said Monsignor Treanor, could also be "the result of misinformation and inadequate communication of the purpose and content of the constitutional treaty."
However, he added, "it should not be forgotten that 10 member states have already ratified the constitutional treaty. The significance of these endorsements should not be ignored."
Monsignor Treanor continued: "The constitutional treaty is the product of a creative effort on the part of European and national political representatives, civil servants, constitutional specialists and representatives of the numerous components of European civil society.
"Its achievement as a compromise between 25 member states still stands. It will remain an essential source for the further evolution of the European project.
"All citizens of Europe, Christian citizens in particular, must re-energize their appreciation of the political and societal importance of the European project and of its achievements so far. Today the European project remains as vital for promoting peace, achieving economic growth, and assuring social cohesion and inclusion as it was 50 years ago."