Pope Francis has urged European Union leaders to imitate the "spirit of service" of the founders of the organization, recongnizing the dignity of emploment as the bloc faces the potential for breakup after Britain's decision to leave.
The Pope spoke to leaders representing 27 EU governments in Rome on March 24 to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which established the European Community, what is now the European Union, Crux Now reported
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May was not present.
The treaty was signed on March 25, 1957, in an environment of hope and celebration.
The Second World War has finished just over a decade earlier, and the institutions brought together former enemies, providing mechanisms that kept most of Europe at peace for one of the longest sustained periods in its history.
"In a world that was all too familiar with the tragedy of walls and divisions, it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe, and for the removal of the unnatural barrier that divided the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic," Francis said.
"What efforts were made to tear down that wall! Yet today the memory of those efforts has been lost."
He noted, "Where generations longed to see the fall of those signs of forced hostility, these days we debate how to keep out the 'dangers' of our time: beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones."
The Pope said leaders need to realize the founders of the EU did not see Europe as "a manual of protocols and procedures to follow," but as "a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity."
He said Europe has forgotten the "the tragedy of separated families, poverty and destitution" stemming from the immediate post-World War II era, and the Cold War which followed.
"These days we debate how to keep out the 'dangers' of our time: beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones," Francis said.
The pontiff said Europe can find hope in solidarity, calling it the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.
"Politics needs this kind of leadership, which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously," said Pope Francis.
'WHOLE HUMAN BEING'
The Pope called on the European leaders to invest in development which "has to do with the whole human being," providing jobs, decent living conditions, and access to education and health care.
Francis also said there can be no peace where people are being cast aside, or forced to live in dire poverty.
"There is no peace without employment and the prospect of earning a dignified wage," the pope said, "there is no peace in the peripheries of our cities, with their rampant drug abuse and violence."
He called on Europe to be "open to the future," offering young people serious prospects for education and jobs, and to invest in the family, which the pontiff called "the first and fundamental cell of society."
Statista.com says that youth unemployment in Greece, Spain and Italy as of December 2016 tops 40 percent and in France it is 26 percent. It is lowest in Germany at 6.5 percent.