Pope Francis is not impressed by Europe.
In a speech (link in Italian) delivered at the Vatican today (May 6) in front of EU representatives including Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, and Angela Merkel, the Pope spoke of Europe’s seeming derailment from the values that created it.
“What happened to you, humanistic Europe, defender of human rights, of democracy and freedom?” the Pope asked. “What happened to you, Europe, mother of peoples and countries, mother of great men and women who were able to defend and give their life for the dignity of their brothers?”
Pope Francis spoke again of Europe as a tired old lady, who has lost enthusiasm for her values. He addressed the need for youth employment, called for “dialogue” (“the one world we should never get tired of speaking”), and called for new economic models that address inequality.
“The European identity is, and has always been, a dynamic and multicultural identity,” he reminded everyone, highlighting the need “to look at the foreigner, the migrant, someone belonging to another culture as a subject to be listened to, considered and appreciated.”
His message framed compassion and solidarity as political necessities. At the end of the speech, Pope Francis outlined what could be thought of as a new European manifesto:
I dream of a young Europe, capable of being a mother: a mother who has life, because she respects life and offers hope for life. I dream of a Europe that takes care of the child, that rescues, like a brother, the poor and those who arrive looking for welcome, because they have nothing and ask for shelter. I dream of a Europe that listens and values the elderly and sick, so that they are not reduced to unproductive waste. I dream of a Europe, where being a migrant isn’t a crime, but the call for a higher commitment towards the dignity of the human being. I dream of a Europe where the youth breaths the clean air of honesty, love the beauty of culture and a simple life, not one polluted by the endless needs of consumerism; where getting married and having children are a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem because of lack of sufficiently stable work. I dream of a Europe of the families, with truly effective policies, focused on faces rather than on numbers, on the birth of children rather than the growth of goods. I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without forgetting the duty towards everyone.
I dream of a Europe where it won’t be said that its commitment to human rights was its final utopia.