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Europe must return to its Christian roots, Pope tells Sant'Egidio community

Some scenes from a visit by Pope Francis to members of Romes Community of Sant'Egidio on Sunday, June 15th.
Some scenes from a visit by Pope Francis to members of Romes Community of Sant'Egidio on Sunday, June 15th.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

In remarks yesterday to members of Rome's Community of Sant'Egidio, which is dedicated to friendship with and service to the poor and which has affiliated communities around the world, Pope Francis said that Europe has become tired, and needs to recover its once-proud Christian identity. “Today I speak of Europe. Europe is tired. We have to help rejuvenate it, to find its roots. It’s true: it has disowned its roots. It’s true. But we need to help it find them,” the Holy Father said. “The treatment of the elderly, as that of children, is an indicator showing the quality of a society. When the elderly are discarded, when the elderly are isolated and sometimes closed off without affection, it’s a bad sign!” declared the Pope, speaking of the reality that most European countries not only accept abortion but promote it, and some have legalized, and even promote euthanasia for the elderly and severely disabled.

The Community of Sant'Egidio provides social outreach and evangelization to those in poverty, immigrants, refugees, the homeless, disabled people, young people, and the elderly. Speaking of the work of the community, the Pontiff noted “How good it is, rather, that alliance I see between young people and the elderly in which everyone receives and gives.” The Pope said that the elderly are a richness of Sant'Egidio. “The elderly and their prayers are a richness for St. Egidio. A people that does not safeguard its elderly, that does not take care of its young people, is a people without a future, a people without hope. Because the youth - the children, the young people - and the elderly carry history forward.” The Holy Father noting that vigorous youth provide "biological strength" to a culture, but the elderly "give them their memory."

“When a society loses memory, it’s over. It’s finished. It’s terrible to see a society, a people, a culture that has lost memory,” the Pope said, as he declared that an economy which makes an idol of money is at risk of becoming a "throw-away culture," words Francis has used on several other occasions to describe the modern cultural situation. “Children are thrown away: no children. Just think of the growth rate of children in Europe: in Italy, Spain, France. The elderly are thrown away with these attitudes, behind which is a hidden euthanasia, a form of euthanasia: uselessness. That which isn’t useful is thrown away. And today the crisis is so great that young people are discarded: when we think of these 75 million young people of 25 years or younger, who are ‘neither-nor’- neither working, nor studying. Without. It happens today, in this tired Europe,” the Pope reflected.

The Pope thanked members of the community around the world for their commitment to solidarity, something that “many want to remove it from the dictionary, eh? Because to a certain culture seems to be a dirty word. Oh no: it is a Christian word, solidarity!” Francis declared.