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No. 6687

November 28 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Stop treating people like cogs in a machine, Francis tells Europe

Pope describes continent as an ‘elderly and haggard’ grandmother in searing speech in Strasbourg


POPE FRANCIS has challenged the European Union to put human dignity at the heart of its mission, overturning what he called the “throwaway culture”.

In a forthright address to members of the European Parliament on Tuesday, Pope Francis said: “The time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present.

“The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and selfabsorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman.”

In the first papal address to the European Parliament since St John Paul II visited Strasbourg in 1988, Francis sharply criticised developments in Europe.

He said: “To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings. Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.

“This is the great mistake made ‘when technology is allowed to take over’. The result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a ‘throwaway culture’ and an uncontrolled consumerism. Upholding the dignity of the person means instead acknowledging the value of human life, which is freely given us and hence cannot be an object of trade or commerce.

“As members of this parliament, you are called to a great mission which may at times seem an impossible one: to tend to the needs of individuals and peoples. To tend to those in need takes strength and tenderness, effort and generosity in the midst of a functionalistic and privatised mindset which inexorably leads to a ‘throwaway culture’. To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope. It means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalisation and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it.”

Francis identified loneliness as a “common disease” afflicting people across the continent. He said that loneliness was particularly rife among the elderly, who are often abandoned, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future.

He said: “This loneliness has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a ‘grandmother’, no longer fertile and vibrant.”

In an address to the Council of Europe later the same day, Francis urged leaders to remember Europe’s roots. Using the analogy of a tree, he said that in Europe “the advance of thought, culture, and scientific discovery is entirely due to the solidity of the trunk and the depth of the roots which nourish it. Once those roots are lost, the trunk slowly withers from within and the branches – once flourishing and erect – bow to the earth and fall.”

He continued: “The roots are nourished by truth, which is the sustenance, the vital lymph, of any society which would be truly free, human and fraternal. On the other hand, truth appeals to conscience, which cannot be reduced to a form of conditioning. Conscience is capable of recognising its own dignity and being open to the absolute. It thus gives rise to fundamental decisions guided by the pursuit of the good, for others and for one’s self. It is itself the locus of responsible freedom.

“It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights. This leads to an effective lack of concern for others.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was one of the MEPs who met Pope Francis on Tuesday.

In an article in this week’s Catholic Herald, Mr Farage writes: “I found the Pope’s speech remarkable and personally very encouraging, for he implied that the modern European Union had gone badly wrong and the idea of a united European state wasn’t even desirable, never mind necessary.”

But Bishop William Kenney, spokesman on European affairs for the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, insisted that Francis’s visit underlined the Pope’s strong support for the EU. Commenting on the reported rise in Catholics voting Ukip, he said: “I do find some of Ukip’s policies somewhat doubtful. Whether Catholics vote for them must be a matter for Catholics to decide themselves. Like on immigration, for instance, the Holy Father said today that we can’t turn the Mediterranean into a cemetery and the problems of immigration aren’t going to go away while there is violence and poverty in our world.” Nigel Farage: Page 12

Pope Francis arrives at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday AP Photo/Christian Hartmann, Pool

Pope may meet refugees from Iraq and Syria during his trip to Turkey


POPE FRANCIS is likely to meet Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria during his trip to Turkey, which begins today.

The Holy Father was due to arrive in Ankara around midday on a three-day trip to the majority Muslim country.

Although the Pope’s official agenda in Turkey does not include any meetings with refugees, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi has said that some may be present when Pope Francis meets students from Catholic schools across the Middle East on Saturday.

It is thought that Pope Francis will repeat previous calls for protection of minorities in the Middle East. More than 100,000 Christians were forced out of their homes in Nineveh, northern Iraq, this summer by ISIS. Many in the region have accused Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, of supporting the terrorist group in i ts war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. ISIS is also at war with Kurdish fighters, who the Turkish government regards as terrorists.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also a controversial figure for pushing back some of the secularisation programme of Mustafa Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish republic.

This year he reversed the ban on women wearing headscarves in universities. He has also claimed that Muslims discovered America centuries before Christopher Colombus and that Islam has only ever fought wars of defence.

On Tuesday Pope Francis said he would “never close the door” on dialogue with ISIS.

Speaking to reporters on the flight home from Strasbourg he said: “I never count anything as lost. Never. Never close the door. It’s difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open.”

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Mel Gibson ‘to film Christian war story’ BY DAVID V BARRETT

MEL GIBSON is in talks to direct a film about a Christian pacifist who won a medal for heroism in the Second World War.

Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Seventh-day Adventist Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector in US history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Drafted into the American army as a medic in 1942

Private Doss was initially ostracised for refusing to carry a weapon, but won praise for risking his own life under enemy fire to save the lives of 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa.

He was shot by a sniper and wounded by a grenade on the battlefield.

He was also awarded two bronze stars and three purple hearts for his bravery. It is likely he will be played by Andrew Garfield, best known for his roles in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Social Network.

Mel Gibson is best known for his 1995 film Braveheart and his 2004 blockbuster The Passion of the Christ.

Pop star Tulisa reveals her devotion to Mary


POP STAR Tulisa Contostavlos has spoken out about her Catholic faith and devotion to the Virgin Mary in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The north London singer, who shot to fame with the band N-Dubz before becoming a solo artist and a judge on X Factor, said: “I’ve always been very spiritual. I’m probably more religious and spiritual than people know. I like to go to church on my own, to the local church that I’ve gone to since I was a kid. I wait until it is completely empty and light candles. The place I go to has 12

different icons, and I always go to Mother Mary, on the left-hand side, and I just sit there for half an hour and pray.”

Tulisa, 26, is halfGreek and half-Irish. She was baptised Greek Orthodox but received her first Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.

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