VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis urged Europe on Monday to rediscover its true identity as the continent copes with refugee waves, Britain’s exit from the EU and the “homicidal madness” of religious-inspired violence.
Francis devoted his annual foreign policy speech to promoting peace at a time of mass migrations, economic stagnation and violent extremism across the globe.
He praised several European nations for taking in refugees and urged others to provide them with a “dignified welcome” while also fighting poverty and other social ills that can fuel religious fundamentalism.
Speaking to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis urged Europe to rediscover its founding ideals as it marks the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, one of the key agreements leading to the creation of the European Union.
“Europe as a whole is experiencing a decisive moment in its history, one which it is called to rediscover its proper identity,” Francis said. “This requires recovering its roots in order to shape its future.”
He called for the creation of a new European humanism to update the very concept of Europe as a unified community of shared common values that was born from the ashes of World War II.
“In response to currents of divisiveness, it is all the more urgent to update ‘the idea of Europe’ so as to give birth to a new humanism based on the capacity to integrate, dialogue and generate that which made the Old Continent great,” he said.
Overall, he once again denounced violence committed in God’s name as “homicidal madness” and the fruit of a “spiritual poverty” often borne of material poverty.
He urged religious leaders to preach God’s message of love and peace, and political leaders to ensure economic opportunities for young people. Governments, he said, must not only protect their own citizens but “ensure that conditions do not exist that can serve as fertile terrain for the spread of forms of fundamentalism.”
On specific global flashpoints, Francis
—appealed for serious negotiations to end the conflict in Syria
—warned that North Korea’s nuclear tests were destabilizing the entire region while raising questions about “the risk of a new nuclear arms race”
—and called for trust, dialogue and “courageous gestures” in Venezuela’s political negotiations.