Pope Francis yesterday (25 November) criticized some of EU’s institutions, practices in migrant policy, and “too much” focus on economic growth and consumerism in his highly anticipated speech attended by the vast majority of EU Parliament.
“Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat aged and weary, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust, and even, at times, suspicion”, Pope Francis said. He described the European continent to “a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant”.
Pope Francis moreover pointed to the growing mistrust of EU nationals towards EU institutions, which are more and more engaged in practices that are perceived by many as “insensitive” to some individuals or even harmful. He said that “the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions”. On the top, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church criticized the fact that the political debate is focusing on technical and economic issues instead of “revolving around the sacredness of the human person”.
The focal point of Pope Francis’ speech however orbited migration policy, something that he had already hinted on a number of occasions prior to his visit in Strasbourg. Pope thinks that Europe cannot allow the Mediterranean to become “a vast graveyard”, referring to thousands of victims who die every year trying to reach the shores of the European continent from North Africa and the Middle East.
Therefore, he urged Brussels to adopt “fair, courageous, and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts”. Yesterday’s speech at the EU Parliament was the first visit of the Pope in 26 years. He also turned out to be one of few speakers who managed to fill the plenary.