The 77-year-old pontiff is well-known for his attacks on consumerism and for his compassion for the poor. More recently, Francis has turned his attention to bioethics issues, describing abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia as “playing with life” and “a sin against God.”
But this was the first time he has delivered his message on the floor of the parliament of the European Union, which represents 500 million people across 28 countries.
As the first non-European pope to hold the office in almost 1,300 years, Francis also appeared less willing to continue the Roman Catholic Church’s traditionally unconditional support for the EU.
As the impact of the stifling economic crisis is being felt in European countries like France and Italy, Francis attacked the EU for a dearth of leadership, saying its ideals had become weighed down by bureaucracy.
“The great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost their power of attraction, in favor of the bureaucratic, technical emphasis of its institutions,” the pope said.