(Vatican Radio) The second major encounter of Pope Francis’ brief visit to the European institutions in Strasbourg will be his meeting with the 47 member Council of Europe which seeks to promote human rights, the rule of law and cultural cooperation across the continent.
Pope Francis’ visit comes 26 years on from that of his predecessor, John Paul II who was welcomed by the Council of Europe on October 8th 1988, on the eve of the Institution's 40th anniversary.
The current Secretary General of the Council is Thorbjorn Jagland who told Linda Bordoni the expectations for Tuesday’s papal visit are extremely high…..
Jagland says it’s very important that Pope Francis coming to stress that Europe has to be values-based. There are a lot of problems confronting European countries now, he says, but if we don’t try to solve them on the basis of common values, of human rights and the rule of law, then we will not be able to solve these problems…..
Jagland notes that there are problems of social unrest across the continent, with extremism growing as a result of that. There is also a growing diversity of religions and cultures because of immigration so he insists it’s essential to recall the basic values upon which the continent is founded….
Pope Francis’s message, Jagland says, has always been to look to the needs of the individual, in particular that of poor people are set aside and don’t have a voice. In the current crisis, he says, this is extremely important because there are so many young people in particular who are ‘set aside’ without jobs and without a future and if we understand this, we understand how to find a way out of the economic crisis, which is caused by so many people not working and not paying taxes….
Looking back to the visit of John Paul II in 1988, Jagland says the former pope was a great inspiration at that time and was so important in what happened a year later with the fall of the Berlin Wall…….now, he adds, we have to focus again, not on the freedom of expression and the right to vote, but on the right to be included in society…..so many people don’t have a voice, he says, there is a kind of new Berlin Wall being built up between those who have work, who are included and those who excluded so the Pope can again play a major role in building bridges and tearing down walls….
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