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Pope Francis addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

Pope Francis addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

Reuters

Pope Francis addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

Europe's era of philosophy and "great ideas" has been replaced by the "bureaucratic technicalities" of European Union institutions, Pope Francis has warned.

In a speech that was deeply critical of contemporary political culture, the Pope told the European Parliament that the EU was in danger of being seen as "downright harmful" to people.

He hit out at "tragic consequences" emanating from European debt crisis, which among other things, fostered the "disease of loneliness".

This now "common disease" was "suffered by the elderly, visible in the 'lost gaze of migrants', and also "the young, who lack clear points of reference for the future" he said.

Pope Francis said Europe often seemed "somewhat elderly and haggard", comparing it to a grandmother who is no longer fertile and vibrant.

In the first papal visit to the European Parliament in over a quarter of a century, the pope reiterated how once at the heart of Europe there was "confidence in man". Instead, he claimed, Europe's citizens have lost trust in the institutions.

Our "selfish lifestyles", "marked by opulence which is no longer sustainable", the pope told nearly 700 MEPs.

The European Parliament that Pope Francis addressed was remarkably different in culture to the one Pope John the II addressed in 1988; the latter watching bemused, as Ian Paisley decried him and the Holy See, as the anti-Christ.

In response to the pope's comments about how harmful the EU's austerity measures have been, and that they've fomented mistrust, MEP Brian Hayes said: "You could say that about the Catholic church and all of its manifestations."

Irish Independent