Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Pope tells European leaders: solidarity will overcome populism, ‘fruit of egotism’

March 24, 2017

Addressing 27 European heads of state on March 24, Pope Francis said that the founders of the European Union rightly understood that “the heart of the European political project could only be man himself.

The Pope spoke to a distinguished group of European leaders in the Sala Regia, in an event marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which gave birth to today’s European Union. In a formal address, the Holy Father said that it is important to “relive that event in order to appreciate its significance for the present.”

In 1957, the Pontiff recalled, European leaders were “full of hope and expectation, enthusiasm and apprehension.” The founders of the European community, he said, had a goal that went beyond economic alliance:

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.

Unlike his predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who had frequently warned against the lost of Europe’s shared Christian identity, Pope Francis did not focus on that theme. He devoted only one paragraph of his lengthy speech to the Christian heritage, quoting Alcide de Gasperi, one of the principal founders of the European community, who said that “at the origin of European civilization there is Christianity.”

In the remainder of the speech the Pontiff spoke more generally about the foundation of European society. He said that the “pillars” of the European community are “the centrality of man, effective solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future.”

Pope Francis touched on several contemporary political issues during his address, mentioning the crises “that engender fear and profound confusion among our contemporaries.” Fear, he said, has become more prominent because of a loss of ideals. He called for a willingness to be open to accepting other peoples, and promised that Europe would discover “new hope in solidarity, which is also the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.” The Pope left no doubt about his distaste for populist movements, saying that they are “the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and looking beyond their own narrow vision.

Among the European leaders who were present for the papal address were Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council; Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission; and Antonio Tajani, ther President of the European Parliament. Tajani remarked, in an interview with Vatican Radio, “The meeting with the Pope is very important for everybody. The Pope is a very important man, not only for the Christian people, but for everybody.”

 
Further information:
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 27, 2017 11:11 AM ET USA

    @bernie4871: <> That is my dilemma also. I have a growing impression that Pope Francis is being persuaded by some clever and influential advisor(s) in directions away from the Catholic Tradition. I would LOVE to be wrong.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Mar. 26, 2017 6:30 PM ET USA

    I found his comments to be stupefying. I love Europeans, but I still love Poles and Germans and Frenchmen and Spaniards and Italians and Romanians, and Belgians. I want them to be what they are. I hate unelected European Parliaments and appointed Commissioners- and Socialism. Our pope sometimes seems to speak with other than a Catholic mind, or so I think. Who writes his stuff?

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Mar. 25, 2017 1:19 PM ET USA

    "The Pope left no doubt about his distaste for populist movements, saying...they are 'the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and looking beyond their own narrow vision.'" A good definition of the political systems implemented by Hugo Chavez, his successors, and of course the former president of the United States. As the non-vote in the House demonstrated yesterday when it showed its true intentions to continue the oppression of the previous Administration.

  • Posted by: Ken - Mar. 25, 2017 5:52 AM ET USA

    'the “pillars” of the European community are “the centrality of man, effective solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future.” ' - Pretty much defines socialism, doesn't it?

  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Mar. 25, 2017 1:35 AM ET USA

    Egotism? "I criticize an ideology, not people. I do not hate anybody. I do not want to harm any human being. I totally reject any form of violence... the most important reason why I reject Islam is its violent nature and the fact that it is harmful to people, including its own adherents who we should pity rather than hate. And who we should help to liberate... I have visited (Islamic) countries... I was overwhelmed by kindness, friendliness and helpfulness..." Dutch 'populist' Geert Wilders

  • Posted by: jan02 - Mar. 24, 2017 9:26 PM ET USA

    If the heart of anything is only man himself it is doomed to fail. Maybe something he said was mistranslated?

  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 24, 2017 8:51 PM ET USA

    EU failed when its suicidal policies created vast new areas (in Sweden, Germany, France) where women fear to leave home after dark, while the media and politicians keep distorting the truth and pretending that no problem exists. "Populism" is a common-sense reaction to the recklessness of the establishment bureaucrats. It also challenges growing unelected political powers in EU. Populism is a form of democratic self-defense, and it makes no sense for the Vicar of Christ to speak against it.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 24, 2017 8:03 PM ET USA

    What kind of solidarity? Has populism become a papal straw-man? Is every popular movement really the fruit of egotism? That's simply not true. What's key is the goal of the populism. During Europe's history of greatness Christ was central not man. Placing man at the center was and is a Masonic idea. Masonry is alive and well in the Europe of today "the religion" of naturalism. How is the Church countering that? What is the Pope's plan to counter this? Does he even think this is a problem?

  • Posted by: FredC - Mar. 24, 2017 7:03 PM ET USA

    Psalm 127: Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.