Your Holiness, you hope that “Europe might once again be the dream of the Founding Fathers.” What are your expectations?
“Europe cannot and must not break apart. It is a historical, cultural as well as a geographical unity. The dream of the Founding Fathers had substance because it was an implementation of this unity. Now, we must not lose this heritage”….
Identities: how important are they? Can an excessive defense of identities lead to a risk of isolation? How do we respond to identities that generate extremism?
“Let me give you the example of ecumenical dialogue: I can’t do ecumenism if I don’t start from my being Catholic, and the other who does ecumenism with me must do so as a Protestant, an Orthodox… Our own identity is not negotiable, it integrates itself. The problem with exaggerations is that we isolate our own identity instead of open ourselves. Identity is a wealth – cultural, national, historical, artistic – and each country has its own, but it must be integrated with dialogue. This is crucial: starting from our own identity we must open to dialogue in order to receive something greater from the identity of others. Never forget that “the whole is greater than the parts.” Globalization, unity, should not be conceived as a sphere, but as a polyhedron: each people retains its identity in unity with others”.
What are the dangers of sovereignist ideologies?
“Sovereignism reveals an attitude toward isolation. I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934. “Us first, We…We…”: these are frightening thoughts. Sovereignism means being closed. A country should be sovereign but not closed. Sovereignty must be defended, but relations with other countries, with the European community must also be protected and promoted. Sovereignism is an exaggeration that always ends badly: it leads to war”….
What is the right path to take when it comes to migrants?
“First of all, never neglect the most important right of all: the right to life. Immigrants come here above all to escape from war or hunger, from the Middle East and Africa. On war, we must commit ourselves and fight for peace. Hunger mainly affects Africa. The African continent is the victim of a cruel curse: in the collective imagination, it seems that this continent should be exploited. Instead, part of the solution is to invest there to help solve their problems and thus stop the migration flows”….
On what common values should the EU be relaunched? Does Europe still need Christianity? And in this context, what role do the Orthodox play?
“The starting, and restarting, point is human values, values of the human person. Together with Christian values: Europe has human and Christian roots, history tells us that. And when I say this, I don’t separate Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. The Orthodox have a very precious role for Europe. We all share the same founding values”.