Europe must rediscover its founding principles, Pope tells EU leaders

He urged them to show more 'solidarity' with one another and to remain open to the world

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
24 March 2017, 8:31pm
Pope Francis has told EU leaders that the union must rediscover its founding principles if it is to survive the challenges it faces
Pope Francis has told EU leaders that the union must rediscover its founding principles if it is to survive the challenges it faces
Pope Francis has told EU leaders that the union must rediscover its founding principles if it is to survive the challenges it faces, adding that anti-immigrant populism and extremism constituted a “vacuum of values” that could prove a mortal threat to the EU.

The pope was addressing the 27 heads of state of the EU in the Sala Regia of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome.

Through his speech, he urged the leaders to show more “solidarity” towards each other and to resist false forms of security in order to overcome populism, while calling for unity and renewed enthusiasm and confidence for the European project.

“Europe finds new hope in solidarity, which is also the most effective antidote to modern populism,” he said. “Those who run faster can offer a hand to those who are slower, and those who find the going harder can aim at catching up to those at the head of the line,” he added.

The Pope decried what he referred to as a sense of a growing ‘split’ between the citizenry and European institutions, which were “often perceived as distant and inattentive to the different sensibilities present in the union.”

He was critical of nations’ seemingly short memories, insisting that the efforts made to bring nations closer together and to bring down barriers had been forgotten, with the predominant discourse across the continent now revolving around how to stop new arrivals.

 “In a world that was all too familiar with the tragedy of walls and divisions, it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe, and for the removal of the unnatural barrier that divided the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic,” he said. “What efforts were made to tear down that wall. Yet today the memory of those efforts has been lost.”

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...