Vatican City, Oct 27, 2020 / 06:00 am
Pope Francis warned Europe’s leaders Tuesday that the project of European unity is at risk unless they “rediscover the path of fraternity” that inspired the project’s founders.
In a letter signed Oct. 22, the feast day of St. John Paul II, and released Oct. 27, the pope wrote: “We can either continue to pursue the path we have taken in the past decade, yielding to the temptation to autonomy and thus to ever greater misunderstanding, disagreement and conflict, or we can rediscover the path of fraternity that inspired and guided the founders of modern Europe, beginning precisely with Robert Schuman.”
He made the remarks in a letter marking three milestones: the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE); the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the European Union; and the 50th anniversary of the Holy See’s presence as a Permanent Observer at the Council of Europe.
The letter was addressed to the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who had planned to travel to the Belgian capital, Brussels, Oct. 28-30.
In the letter, the pope noted that the cardinal intended to make “significant visits to the authorities of the European Union, the Plenary Assembly of COMECE and the authorities of the Council of Europe.”
But the Vatican announced Oct. 27 that Parolin had canceled the trip because of new restrictions seeking to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Argentine pope explained in the letter that he wanted to share his reflections on the future of Europe, a continent that he said was “so dear to me,” not only because of his family’s Italian roots, but also because of Europe’s “central role … in the history of humanity.”
He said that the pandemic had underlined the importance of cooperation between European countries and the danger of giving in to “the temptation to go it alone, seeking unilateral solutions to a problem that transcends state borders.”