Pope Francis has received the Charlemagne Prize, the most prestigious distinction in Europe, at the Vatican. A representative from the city of Aachen, justifies the reasoning for awarding Pope Francis the prize.
"In appreciation of his distinguished service on behalf of peace, understanding and mercy in a European society of values.”
Some heads of state and government attended the ceremony, such as the king of Spain, Felipe VI, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. It was the major European authorities who intervened and explained the situation on the Old Continent during the ceremony.
President of the European Parliament
"Holy Father, let me be clear: Europe is going through a crisis of solidarity, our shared values are wavering.”
President of the European Commission
"Europe is more than an emsemble of institutions, indicators or processes, more than an economic partnership. Europe, as I see it, is a rallying of forces for humanity and for a peace that begins in our day-to-day lives.”
In his ambitious speech, the Pope lamented that the Europeans have set aside the common European project, and let themselves be dominated by self-interest, retirement and weariness.
"What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champions of human rights, democracy and freedom? What has happened to you, Europe, the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”
Given the political and identity crisis on the Old Continent, the Pope asked every citizen to remember the past, in order to rebuild the Old Continent once again. This means recreating the generosity and boldness of those, who after World War II, launched the European project.
"A Europe capable of giving birth to a new humanism based on three capacities: the capacity to integrate, the capacity for dialogue and the capacity to generate.”
The Pope has invited the people to build a Europe of solidarity, centered on the citizens, with an economy that rather than relying on speculation, invests in people and in full-time employment for young people.
He explained it in a moving speech.
"I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.
I dream of a Europe where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism, where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment.
I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all.
I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.”
Before leaving, he stopped with the King of Spain, who has given him a duplicate edition of the autographs of Cervantes.
The Pope greeted all the leaders who have come, and many other guests, such as former Prime Minister of Spain, Felipe González.