By Andrea Tornielli
The speeches given by Pope Francis on his first day in Romania reveal a road map for the future of Europe and the world. Speaking to the President and Authorities of the country, the Pope explained that attention to the weak and the poor represents “the best indicator of the actual goodness of the social model that one is attempting to build”. The Pope continued, saying: “Only to the extent that a society is concerned for its most disadvantaged members, can it be considered truly civil”. To achieve this, we need a heart and soul that is free from “the growing power of centres of high finance”, and filled with “an awareness of the centrality of the human person and of his or her inalienable rights”.
This is certainly not the first time the Pope has pointed out one of the plagues of our time: an economic-financial system that idolizes the "god of money", instead of placing working women and men at the centre. These words of the Successor of Peter are transversal and uncomfortable, because they are cannot be easily confused. His words describe the malaise experienced by so many peoples against powers and structures they feel are increasingly intrusive and inhumane. They are a wake-up call for a Europe that sometimes forgets to care about people. A Europe that should be closer to the soul of the people the Pope speaks about.
Pope Francis expressed a similar intuition during the meeting with the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Pope invited Christians to "listen together to the Lord", especially in these more recent years, “when our world has experienced rapid social and cultural changes. Technological development and economic prosperity may have benefitted many, yet even more have remained hopelessly excluded, while a globalization that tends to level differences has contributed to uprooting traditional values and weakening ethics and social life, which more recently has witnessed a growing sense of fear that, often skilfully stoked, leads to attitudes of rejection and hate”.
Pope Francis continued: “We need to help one another not to yield to the seductions of an individualistic “culture of hate” that, perhaps no longer ideological as in the time of the atheist persecution, is nonetheless more persuasive and no less materialist. Often it takes on the appearance of a path to development that appears fast and easy, but in reality is indifferent and superficial”.
In the new Orthodox Cathedral of Bucharest, Pope Francis paraphrased the “Our Father”. The prayer the Lord gives all Christians includes “the bread of memory, the grace to nurture the shared roots of our Christian identity, so indispensable in an age when humanity, and the young in particular, tend to feel rootless amid the uncertainties of life, and incapable of building their lives on a solid foundation”.
The rediscovery of common roots, values and the dreams of Europe’s Founding Fathers, do not represent an element of "identity" that creates separations and new walls. Instead, they are a hidden heritage to be unearthed in order to create new bonds, a new ability to welcome, and true integration.