Following a historic vote in which Scotland rejected independence from the U.K., the Bishop’s Conference of Scotland recognized the decision and applauded the country’s strong participation in public debate. “The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland recognises and respects the result of the Scottish referendum, that Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom, and commends all those who participated in what was a passionate and sometimes partisan debate,” the bishops said in a statement. A whopping 3.6 million people, or about 85 percent of the country’s registered voters, turned out to decide whether or not they would sever 307-year-old ties with the U.K. In the end, 55 percent voted to stay united, while 45 percent voted in favor of independence. The Scottish bishop’s conference said it hopes the strong voter turnout means Scots can now band together to cooperate for future endeavors. “The vast majority of Scots engaged with the Referendum and it is our hope that we can all now cooperate for the benefit of our nation in future,” they said. The vote followed a particularly heated campaign session that attracted the attention of the world. “The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together, and like millions of other people, I am delighted,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a news conference from 10 Downing Street. “It would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end.” President Barack Obama congratulated Scotland for their “full and energetic exercise of democracy” in a Sept. 19 statement. He praised the Scottish people for participating in “passionate yet peaceful deliberations” and said he “look(s) forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” Similarly, the Scottish Bishops encouraged Catholics to continue participating in important decisions in the public square while maintaining their Christian values. “We urge the Catholic community to continue to engage in public debate and decision-making and, in doing so, to uphold the meaning and importance of the Christian message. May God bless Scotland.”