Europe needs hope, Pope Francis says


Pope Francis smiles during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 27, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2023 / 06:52 am (CNA).

To deal properly with the crises it faces, Europe must first have hope, Pope Francis said Wednesday at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“Hope needs to be restored to our European societies,” the pope said Sept. 27, “especially to the new generations.”

“Our societies, many times sickened by individualism, by consumerism and by empty escapism, need to open themselves, their souls and spirits need to be oxygenized, and then they will be able to read the crisis as an opportunity and deal with it positively,” he continued.

During his Wednesday audience with the public, Pope Francis spoke about his Sept. 22-23 visit to Marseille, France, to participate in the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes,” or Mediterranean Encounter, a meeting of bishops, mayors, and young people to confront issues facing the Mediterranean region, including immigration.

The pope spoke at the meeting on its second-to-last day Sept. 23.

Pope Francis reaches to bless a young child during his general audience in St. Peter's Square Sept. 27, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis reaches to bless a young child during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 27, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

“What came out of the Marseille event? What came out is an outlook on the Mediterranean that I would call simply human, not ideological, not strategic, not politically correct nor instrumental; no, human, that is, capable of referring everything to the primary value of the human person and his or her inviolable dignity,” he said.

He also noticed, he added, that there was a hopeful and fraternal outlook, even, surprisingly, from those who “have lived through inhuman situations.”

“This hope, this fraternity must not ‘evaporate;’ no, rather, it needs to be organized, concretized through long, medium and short-term actions so that people, in complete dignity, can choose to emigrate or not to emigrate,” he urged.

“In fact, how can we welcome others if we ourselves do not first have a horizon open to the future?” Francis said. “How can young people, who are poor in hope, closed in on their private lives, worried about managing their own precariousness, open themselves to meeting others and to sharing?”

Pope Francis said he saw a lot of passion and enthusiasm during his visit to Marseille, a port city in southern France, including at the Mass he celebrated on Sept. 23.

He encouraged the continent of Europe to also cultivate this passion and enthusiasm so that the Mediterranean region can be “a mosaic of civilization and hope,” rather than “a tomb” or a “place of conflict.”

“The Mediterranean Sea,” the pope said, “is the complete opposite of the clash between civilizations, war, human trafficking.”

Pope Francis addresses a crowd of people in St. Peter's Square during his weekly general audience on Sept. 27, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis addresses a crowd of people in St. Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience on Sept. 27, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Francis said the Mediterranean Sea is a channel of communication between Africa, Asia, and Europe, and though “the sea is always an abyss to overcome in some way, and it can even become dangerous,” still, “its waters safeguard treasures of life; its waves and its winds carry vessels of all types.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ even departed from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, he noted.

At the end of his audience, Pope Francis recalled that on Sept. 27, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, a French Catholic priest who co-founded the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians.

“Today’s liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul reminds us of the centrality of love of neighbor,” the pope said. “I urge everyone to cultivate the attitude of caring for others and openness to those who need you.”

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  1. We should be intrigued, and even inspired by Pope Francis’ hope-filled vision of the Mediterranean geography as a “MOSAIC” region transcending nation-state boundaries. In the same way that a reunited Church (Catholic and Orthodox) could restructure the less and included boundaries of the morally calcifying European Union.

    On the core value of human dignity, Zbigniew Brzezinski, author and former National Security Advisory under President Carter in the late 1990s, arrived at a similar prescription for America. He wrote:

    “Only by identifying itself with the idea of universal human dignity—with its basic requirement of respect for culturally diverse political, social, and religious emanations—can America overcome the risk that the global political awakening will turn against it” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower” (New York: Basic Books, 2007).

    Brzezinski challenged America to engage “the global political awakening” in a way that involves freedom and democracy, “but also and “above all, (with) respect for the world’s cultural and religious MOSAIC.” This apparent congruence between intricate secular strategizing and the Church’s more basic social principles was encouraging, but still inexact and subtly off the mark on a central point…

    But now with identity politics fully in play, where is the American version of the Mediterranean? And, of the Med, in St. Augustine’s time there were 250 Catholic dioceses in North Africa; today, a handful if any. And Europe? Europe is more than a geography (!).

    The Catholic social principles see religious truth not as “emanations” from concrete human dignity; rather human dignity is a consequence of man’s relationship to the living and true God and then to each other—religious truth. The start-point, validating any “mosaic” of cultures must be, yes, clearly the nature of the concrete human person—and, also and therefore, the innate and universal Natural Law.

    No answers here to very intriguing and fresh visions, but perhaps another “concern,” or footnote, or overall perspective to be clearly added to the continental and Synodal “syntheses”?

  2. I only want to know one thing: Did the Pope explicitly state that without Jesus Christ, the world has no reason to hope? If he did, that’s to be applauded; if he did not, he should be ashamed of himself.

  3. The Papal Kingdom of the Vatican has massive walls and a hard closed border. The Pope will not even let Cardinal Burke emigrate!

    The Vatican has many billion euros of assets, ginning off hundreds of millions each year for about 500 citizens. Hundreds of millions have been squandered on idiotic investments. Low rent apartments are abused for drug induced orgies. No wonder they like Rupnik. Several thousand servants do the manual labor. Not even oligarchs could think that the Vatican elite live like the Apostles or early Franciscans…

    Synodal that!

  4. Europe offers hope to the daring and courageous aspirants whose sole aim is to humbly participate in worldbuilding. European painters, musicians, singers, artists, scientists, engineers, architects, medical practitioners, historians, missionaries, footballers, professors, administrators, journalists, food cultivators, and social entrepreneurs have created a lasting legacy that attracts the attention of ambitious Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, and others to take risks to come and learn under the watchful eyes of their heroes and icons.

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