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The Best Zingers in Pope Francis’s Takedown of Europe

By: for Washington Post on Nov. 28, 2014
World News
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Pope Francis signs the visitors book in Strasbourg in the company of EP President Schulz

On Tuesday, Pope Francis addressed the European parliament in the French city of Strasbourg. The speech was a historic event, following 26 years after Pope John Paul II spoke before the same assembly, not long before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then, the late pontiff hailed the European Union as a "beacon of civilization."

Pope Francis, though, was far less full of praise. The first Latin American pontiff said he intended to give "hope and encouragement" to his European flock, but the speech that followed was more a searing critique than a pep talk. He decried the "loneliness" setting into Europe, the ebbing of its "humanistic spirit" in the face of self-interested policies and the concerns of "trade and commerce." He said that Europe was a "haggard" "grandmother." And, like any good cleric, Pope Francis urged the European Union to remember the "transcendent dimension" and the importance of human dignity.

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