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April 13, 2017. Vatican releases statement that the pope visited Benedict XVI yesterday.
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Pope to EU leaders: Populism arises from selfishness and suffocates us

2017-03-24

This is how the first delegations of leaders arrived at the Vatican, almost one hour before their meeting with the pope. 

Pope Francis joined the European Union's 60th birthday celebrations with this meeting of the Heads of State and Government of its 27 member countries. 

The leaders are in Italy to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome signing, which marked the beginning of the current European Union. 

All involved in this important event were brought together in the Sala Regia, where Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and the President of European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, were also in attendance. 

The Pope gave a powerful speech, in which he praised the founding father's visions: the Europe they wanted and the one that it is called to be.

POPE FRANCIS
"The founding fathers remind us that Europe is not a conglomeration of rules to obey, or a manual of protocols and procedures to follow. It is a way of life, a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity, as something more than simply a sum of rights to defend or claims to advance.”

Pope Francis reminded them that 60 years ago, Europe was founded on the basis of solidarity, and to break down walls and divisions. It's this   fact that has allowed Europe to enjoy the greatest period of peace in the last centuries.

POPE FRANCIS
"The founding fathers had a clear sense of being part of a common effort that not only crossed national borders, but also the borders of time.”

Thus, he warned of a "memory void”, and suggested that this commemoration is not only a mere memory, but also a catalyst for the Europe of the future. 

POPE FRANCIS
"Europe is a family of peoples and that – as in every good family – there are different sensitivities, yet all can grow to the extent that all are united.”

Unity in its differences will strengthen tomorrow's Europe, and allow it to face new challenges that threaten it, like populism.

POPE FRANCIS
"For solidarity is no mere ideal; it is expressed in concrete actions and steps that draw us closer to our neighbors, in whatever situation they find themselves. Forms of populism are instead the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and "looking beyond” their own narrow vision.”

He also reminded them of the important mission the leaders have to further develop the European project. 

POPE FRANCIS
"This is your duty: Identify the path of hope.” 

Pope Francis recalled that at the origin of European civilization is Christianity. He assured that "the value vacuum of our time" can be remedied through Europe's spiritual heritage. That will be, said Pope Francis, the best antidote against extremism. The pope also rembered the victims of the recent terrorist attack in London claimed by the ISIS.

At the end of his speech, he personally greeted the guests, and together they took this photo in the Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo's Last Judgment painting in the background. 


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