Pope Francis falls on plane steps after Greece visit
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This week the Pope compared the EU to a “Nazi dictatorship” after the bloc was accused of banning the word ‘Christmas’. The Pope, 84, stressed while onboard the papal plane on return to the Vatican, that the EU should not “take the path of ideological colonisation”. Last week the European Commission received massive backlash for its attempts to make official communication more inclusive.
They abruptly withdrew their 30-page guide from EU communications after critics lashed out at suggestions that staff members “avoid assuming that everyone is Christian” and celebrate Christmas.
The Pope, who was returning from a five day trip to Greece and Cyprus, said: “In history many, many dictatorships have tried to do this kind of thing.
“Think of Napoleon, think of the Nazi dictatorship, the communist one.
“It is something that throughout history hasn’t worked.”
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He added that Brussel must “be careful not to take the path of ideological colonisation, which could end up dividing counties and [causing] the European Union to fail.”
It was not the first time the Pope had spoken out against the bloc, having previously insisted that the EU was too “bureaucratic”.
In 2014, during his first address to the European Parliament, the Pope hit out at Europe and insisted that the EU needed reform if it is to survive.
Speaking to the MEP’s directly, he said: “There has been a growing mistrust on the part of the citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof.
“As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attractiveness, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.”
The Pope suggested that Europe was divorced from the convictions of its founding fathers, and added that the EU gave the impression of being “elderly and haggard”, and of “weariness and ageing”.
He did however place himself in support of a flexible Europe in which each of its members was granted autonomy within the Union.
He said: “[Europe is] like a family, all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself.
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“I consider Europe as a family of peoples.”
After his controversial address Nigel Farage, who was at the time leader of UKIP, said the Pope shared many of his criticisms.
Meanwhile, the Italian Prime Minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, when asked if he agreed with the Pope that the EU was too bureaucratic said: “Absolutely, yes.”
The Pope had been visiting Greece and Cyprus this week, with much of his trip focused on raising concern for the plight of migrants seeking entry to Europe.
On Sunday he criticised European countries’ increasingly tougher stance on migration and claimed that democracy was “on the retreat” as governments pursued “nationalistic self-interest.”
When asked to elaborate on Monday, the Pope cautioned against “drowning our identity in an international government.”
He added: “The danger is when there is a superpower that dictates economic, cultural and social behaviour to the other countries.
“Democracy is weakened when national values are sacrificed, are watered down toward an empire, a kind of supranational government.”
The Pope returned to the Vatican to attend a scheduled meeting with members of the French commission that investigated sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church.
He also celebrated his 85th birthday on December 17.
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