Monday

26th Jun 2017

EU weakens own identity by ignoring Christianity, warns Pope

Pope Benedict XVI has criticised EU leaders for ignoring Christianity in their reflections over the union's 50th birthday and warned about demographic trends that put Europe's future at risk.

Speaking to European bishops gathered in Rome and Vatican over the weekend (22-24 March) to mark the 50th anniversary of the signature of the EU's founding treaties, the head of the Catholic Church suggested Europe was doubting its identity by committing a "form of apostasy of itself".

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  • Pope Benedict XVI criticises "dangerous individualism" in Europe (Photo: wikipedia)

"If on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the governments of the Union want to get closer to their citizens, how can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify?" he asked.

"It is no surprise that today's Europe, while it purports to be a community of values, seems to increasingly contest the existence of absolute and universal values," he said, adding that a union that fails to respect "the true dignity of the human being, forgetting that each person is created in the image of God, ends up doing good for no one."

The speech came just as EU leaders were gathering in Berlin to celebrate the bloc's birthday, with German chancellor Angela Merkel signing a declaration on their behalf which makes no specific reference to religious values in a united Europe.

However, a meeting of the centre-right heads of states and governments in Berlin - including the German chancellor - preceding the full EU gathering adopted a separate declaration mentioning "Judeo-Christian roots" as well as the key contribution of Christian Democrats in Europe's integration.

Pope Benedict also spoke about the looming demographic crisis in Europe, saying its low birth rates could put the bloc "down a road which could lead it to take its leave from history," he said.

"You could almost think that the European continent is in fact losing faith in its own future," he argued, adding that part of these trends is due to a preference of "dangerous individualism" among Europeans.

According to the European Commission, the size of Europe's working population is likely to fall by 48 million between now and 2050 with serious implications for economic growth and public finances, particularly in countries like Italy and Poland.

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