January 24, 2022 12:58 pm

The Pope in Athens: “Today there is a decline in democracy, not only on the European continent”

Correspondent in the Vatican

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From the cradle of Western culture and speaking to the whole world, Pope Francis warned this Saturday in Athens that “it cannot but be noted with concern how today, not only on the European continent, there is a decline in democracy». It is a dynamic that is obvious on all continents.

After thanking the President of the Republic, Ekaterini Sakellapoulou for the welcoming speech, the Pope addressed some erosion factors in his speech to the authorities and the diplomatic corps, since “democracy is complex, while authoritarianism is expeditious, and easy promises proposed by populisms they are attractive. ‘

On the other hand, according to Francisco, “in various societies, concerned about security and anesthetized by consumerism, fatigue and discomfort lead to a kind of ‘democratic skepticism'”.

To these three toxic elements – authoritarianism, populism and consumerism – the Pope has added a fourth, perhaps more uncomfortable for his recipients in many capitals: “There is also, with regard to democracy, a skepticism caused by distance from institutions, for fear of loss of identity, and for bureaucracy.

The remedy, in his opinion, “is not in the obsessive search for popularity, in the thirst for visibility, in the proclamation of impossible promises, but in good politics”, especially necessary in times of difficulty.

“Politics is a good thing”

For Francisco “politics is a good thing”, but it must be “also in practice, as the supreme responsibility of the citizen, as an art of the common good ”, which knows“ to direct a particular attention, I would say as a priority, to the weakest fringes ”.

It is necessary to participate more and in a constructive way, precisely when «every day fears spread, amplified by virtual communication, and theories are developed to oppose others. It is urgent «to move from partisanship to participation; from the mere commitment to support one’s own faction to being actively involved for the promotion of all ».

To this notice on the state of health of democracy in the world – launched two hours after his arrival from Cyprus – the Pope has added a more concrete one: “The European Community, torn by nationalist egoisms, rather than being a train of solidarity, sometimes it is blocked and uncoordinated ».

If in the past «ideological contrasts prevented the construction of bridges between east and west of the continent, today the migratory question has also opened gaps between the south and the north ».

Faced with this situation, Francis wishes to “once again urge a joint, community vision of the migration issue” and “that attention be directed to those most in need so that, according to the possibilities of each country, they are welcomed, protected, promoted. and integrated in the full respect of their human rights and dignity ”.

Speaking of rights, the Pope has made explicit one threatened in several European countries: «He must always privilege himself the right to care and treatment for all, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly, are never discarded. Indeed, life is a right. Death is not, which is welcomed, not supplied ».

Like other European countries, Greece suffers the consequences of global warming and, according to Francisco, “it is sad to see how many centuries-old olive trees burned in recent years, consumed by fires frequently caused by adverse weather conditions, caused by climate change.”

Commitments against climate change

That is why he has asked «that commitments made in the fight against climate change they are shared more and more and are not a facade, but are carried out seriously ».

Specifically, “that the words follow the deeds, so that the children do not pay once more for the hypocrisy of the parents”, worthy of “the words that Homer put in the mouth of Achilles: ‘It is as hateful to me as the gates of Hades who thinks one thing and manifests another ‘».

To the satisfaction of the Athenian authorities, the Pope stressed that “here, according to the well-known affirmation of Socrates, the feeling of citizenship not only of one’s own homeland, but of the entire world began.”

According to Francisco, after two thousand years, “the cradle became a house, a great house of democratic peoples. I refer to the European Union and the dream of peace and brotherhood that it represents for so many peoples.

And he has concluded by formulating a wish: “From this city, from this cradle of civilization, a message was raised — and may it continue to rise forever — a message oriented upwards and towards the other: that to the seductions of authoritarianism I respond with democracy.”

And also «that individualistic indifference is answered with the care of the other, the poor and creation, essential pillars for a renewed humanism, which is what our time and our Europe need ».

The Pope’s program includes, in the afternoon, a meeting with Archbishop Jerome II, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, and a meeting with catechists, seminarians, religious and priests in the Cathedral of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite.

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