Strasbourg: Pope Francis Tuesday said the European Union (EU) has aged and grown tired and criticised Europe over its treatment of immigrants.
In the first papal address to the European parliament in a quarter of a century, the 77-year-old pontiff berated Europe for its treatment of immigrants, for the hordes of young unemployed, for its treatment of older people and for its failure to see clearly, the Guardian reported.
The first non-European pontiff in 1,200 years delivered a sombre and thoughtful message to more than 700 MEPs gathered in the parliament`s hemicycle in Strasbourg on France`s border with Germany.
Francis, in a speech devoted to the centrality of human dignity, declared that the EU had lost its bearings. It had become "elderly and haggard", hostage to a uniform economic model that undermined democracy while the centrality of human rights was becoming confused with and supplanted by individualistic narcissism.
The rest of the world viewed Europe with "aloofness, mistrust and suspicion", the pontiff said.
"We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast graveyard," Pope Francis said, in reference to the thousands of migrants who drown every year as they seek to reach southern Europe from north Africa and the Middle East.
The EU had to deal with the problem of immigration by drafting laws that protected both EU citizens and the rights of migrants. Instead, it was pursuing "policies of self-interest" that only fed the conflicts the migrants were fleeing.
"Unity does not mean uniformity," said Francis, as he decried "uniform systems of economic power in the service of unseen empires".
The last pope to address the European parliament was John Paul II 26 years ago who called the EU a "beacon of civilisation", the contrast on Tuesday was striking, the Guardian added.