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Pope insists Europe's Christians can promote political dialogue

Pope Francis has urged Christians in Europe to help shape the continent's future by promoting political dialogue "especially where it is threatened and where conflict seems to prevail".

The Pope told European political and church leaders at the Vatican that politics, rather than promoting dialogue as it should, "is becoming instead a forum for clashes between opposing forces".

The pontiff's fifth speech on Europe on Saturday comes as Britain negotiates its exit from Europe after four decades and a day after the regional parliament in Catalonia made a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

AP Photo/Santi Palacios


Madrid has retaliated by ordering its politicians out of office to prevent a breakaway - with an anti-independence rally expected in Barcelona later on Sunday.

While Catalonia's disputed President has urged his people to oppose the Spanish government's takeover of the region, he has insisted they do so peacefully.

Pope Francis cited the prominence of extremist and populist groups that "make protest the heart of their political message, without offering ... a constructive political project".


He said Christians can help by underlining that Europe is "made up of people", not institutions and statistics.

He added: "In our day, Christians are called to revitalize Europe and to revive its conscience, not by occupying spaces, but by generating processes capable of awakening new energies in society."

To preserve European values, the Argentinian-born leader of the Catholic Church urged his followers to rediscover their traditional identity, starting with the family, which, he said, "remains the most fundamental place for this process of discovery".

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