Europe’s throwaway culture, where the elderly, the terminally ill, unborn children are disposed of, was condemned by Pope Francis when he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Europe, he said, gave the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.
The rules, he warned, were increasingly seen as insensitive if not harmful to people, and the great ideas that once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions, he told the EU’s directly elected members.
Technical and economic questions were dominating political debate to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings, he said.
“Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited with the result that whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.
“This is the great mistake made when technology is allowed to take over and the result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a throwaway culture, and an uncontrolled consumerism”.
The time had come, he told the MEPs, to work together in building a Europe that revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. It was time to abandon a Europe that is fearful and self absorbed, and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith.
He warned against Europe trying to create a uniform society, saying it struck at the vitality of the democratic system.
“Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalising tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom”, he told the MEPs.
Keeping democracies alive was a challenge and must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests that become uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires.
This meant investing in individuals through education, beginning with the family that this will give hope to new generations and also the elderly. Policies that create employment, and restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. Market flexibility must be joined with stability and security for workers.
He warned that the absence of mutual support within the EU on the issue of migrants ran the risk of contributing t slave labour and social tensions, and instead must ensure the acceptance of immigrants.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery”, he said referring to the deaths of hundreds of migrants trying to reach Europe from north Africa.
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