Pope to Europe: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?”

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In a stinging rebuke to European Union leaders, Pope Francis asked a loaded rhetorical question while receiving a prestigious award today.

“What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?”

Ironically, Pope Francis was receiving the prestigious Charlemagne Award for his work on behalf of European solidarity.

Francis gave a harsh assessment of the current state of the European Union— a union that appears to be coming apart at the seams, slamming nations that are rushing to build walls and distance themselves from Europe’s post-World War II founding.

Speaking about the previous generation of European leaders who established “foundations for a bastion of peace, an edifice made up of states united not by force but by free commitment to the common good… Their new and exciting desire to create unity seems to be fading. We, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there,” he told guests gathered at the award ceremony.

Francis stunned guests— with more stinging language.

“What has happened to you, Europe … the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you … the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”

His speech also touch upon economic disparity and the lack of opportunity for young people on the continent.

“If we want to rethink our society, we need to create dignified and well-paying jobs, especially for our young people. We cannot look to the future without offering them the real possibility to be catalysts of change and transformation. We cannot envision Europe without letting them be participants and protagonists in their dream.”

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