Safeguarding human dignity was a key theme of the formal address delivered by Pope Francis to Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday. Immigration, protecting the environment, and promoting human rights and democracy were among the topics stressed in a speech that enjoined "Europe to rediscover the best of itself".
Opening the formal sitting, Parliament’s President Martin Schulz said that the loss of confidence of people in politics, both at national and European level, is "tremendous", stressing that no institution can operate if it lacks support. "We therefore all need to cooperate to regain this lost trust", he said.
Mr Schulz stressed the "common goals" of the EU and the Catholic church in promoting "the values of tolerance, respect, equality, solidarity and peace", and that "The European Union is about inclusion and cooperation rather than exclusion and confrontation".
Human rights and dignity
"I would like to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe", Pope Francis told MEPs. He said that dignity was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding Europe after World War II and praised the fact that "the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the EU to advocate the dignity of the person", both within the Union and in its relations with third countries.