There is a warning to EU heads of state and government not to forget the founding values of the bloc.
It comes from Pope Francis in a special meeting in the Vatican, on the eve of a summit in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the European Union’s founding document, the Treaty of Rome.
The pontiff told the leaders that he believes many people have forgotten the lessons of the past and the importance of solidarity and mutual respect.
“Europe finds new hope when man is the centre and the heart of her institutions,” said Pope Francis.
“I am convinced that this entails an attentive and trust-filled readiness to hear the expectations voiced by individuals, society and the peoples who make up the Union.
“Sadly, one frequently has the sense that there is a growing split between the citizens and the European institutions.”
The pontiff warned that the European Union must not be reduced to just numbers and statistics, but it needs more of a human face.
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, told the same gathering: “We can defeat terrorism, solve the problem of immigration and banish the lingering economic crisis, with the scourge of youth unemployment, only if we are able to rediscover and appreciate the reasons that brought us together.”