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Francis at the EU

by
28 November 2014

THE idea that something as large and diverse as a continent can have an image seems bizarre. Europe has not only an image, but an image problem. Pope Francis, with no political constituency to cosy up to, can be relied upon to present things more truthfully than others: "In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is now a grandmother, no longer fertile and lively. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions." It might have been expected that his audience of MEPs, implicated in that bureaucracy, would receive this coldly. Instead, they applauded for more than a minute. It is a sign, perhaps, that holiness can gain a hearing where hectoring cannot.

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