DW – March 24, 2017
Pope Francis said Europe faced a “vacuum of values” during an audience with EU leaders in the Vatican on Friday. Ahead of a celebration for the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on Saturday, Francis condemned anti-immigrant populism and extremism as mortal threats to the bloc.
“When a body loses its sense of direction and is no longer able to look ahead, it experiences a regression and, in the long run, risks dying,” he told heads of state and government from 27 EU member states, as well as EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“The first element of European vitality must be solidarity,” he said, arguing that this would be “the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.”
The Argentinian-born pontiff told the leaders they needed to promote Europe’s “patrimony of ideals and spiritual values” more vigorously. Francis said the EU needed to close the gap between its citizens and institutions, adding that Brussels was “often perceived as distant and inattentive.”