Pope Francis has called for ‘good politics’ as an ‘antidote to polarisation’

From the ‘cradle of democracy’, Francis called for ‘good politics’ as ‘antidote to polarisation’

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Pope Francis has asked the world for ‘good politics’ that would act as an ‘antidote to polarisation’ and ‘skepticism’ in the face of a global ‘regression of democracy’, speaking at the Presidential Palace in Athens, to which called the “cradle of democracy”; the first day of his visit to Greece.

“Here great historians have been passionate about telling the stories of peoples near and far. Here, according to the famous statement of Socrates, they began to feel citizens not only of their own country, but of the whole world,” the pontiff said during a meeting in the Greek capital with civil society and the diplomatic corps. accredited in the European country, in the second leg of the journey that began on Thursday in Cyprus.

“Citizens, here man became aware of being a political animal and, as a member of a community, he saw in others not only subjects, but citizens with whom to organize the polis together,” Francis added later, after talks with the country’s president and prime minister, Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

In a speech with quotes from classical thinkers and references to Greek literature, Jorge Bergoglio highlighted the history of the Hellenic capital and assured: “Democracy was born here. The cradle, millennia later, has become a house, a great house of democratic peoples: I refer to the European Union and to the dream of peace and brotherhood that it represents for so many peoples”.

“Not just on the European continent, there is a decline in democracy.” Photo: AFP

“However, one cannot fail to note with concern that today, not only on the European continent, there is a decline in democracy,” he said later, in the middle of the Mediterranean tour with which he seeks to draw Europe’s attention to a more open immigration policy.

Democracy, argued the 84-year-old Argentine pontiff, “requires the participation and involvement of everyone and therefore requires effort and patience; democracy is complex, while authoritarianism is expeditious and the easy promises offered by populism are seductive”.

In any case, the pope said, “in various societies, security-conscious and anesthetized by consumerism, fatigue and unease lead to a kind of democratic skepticism.”

“The participation of all is a fundamental requirement, not only to achieve common goals, but because it responds to what we are: social beings, irreplaceable and at the same time interdependent”dad francisco

“However, the participation of all is a fundamental requirement, not only to achieve common goals, but because it responds to what we are: social beings, irreplaceable and at the same time interdependent,” said François, who had already devoted his last encyclical, Fratelli tutti, to politics as “a lofty form of charity”.

In a context where self-perceived anti-political movements are multiplying in various countries of the world, the pope affirmed that “there is also a skepticism with regard to democracy, caused by the estrangement of institutions, by the fear to lose its identity and by bureaucracy”.

“The remedy for this is not in the obsessive search for popularity, in the thirst for visibility, in the proclamation of impossible promises or in the adherence to abstract ideological colonizations, but rather in the right politics”, he said. he said in this context, in one of the strongest speeches of the tour in which he is accompanied by an emissary from Telam aboard the papal plane.

“Because politics is a good thing and therefore it should be in practice, as the supreme responsibility of the citizen, as an art for the common good,” Bergoglio stressed.

From Greece, Francis lamented European ‘nationalist selfishness’ that stops immigrants

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“For the good to be truly shared, special attention must be paid, I would say priority, to the weakest fringes. This is the direction to follow, which a founding father of Europe indicated as an antidote to the polarizations that animate democracy, but this threatens to exasperate it,” he said, paraphrasing the Italian Alcide De Gasperi.

According to Bergoglio, “in this sense, a change of pace is needed as fears spread daily, amplified by virtual communicationand theories are being developed to oppose others”, he noted in a renewed criticism of certain discourses promoted from social networks.

“Let us instead help each other move from partisanship to participation; from simply committing to supporting one’s own faction to being actively involved in the advancement of all,” he called.

“Let’s help each other to move from partisanship to participation; from simply committing to supporting one’s own faction to being actively involved in promoting each other”

In his speech, he also called for this “participation” to serve as motivation on other fronts such as the climate, the pandemic, the common market “and above all in widespread poverty”.

“These are challenges that require concrete and active collaboration, the international community needs it, to open avenues of peace through multilateralism that is not stifled by excessive nationalist pretensions,” was the papal invitation.

“Politics needs it, to put common demands before private interests,” he said.

Francisco, in line with the common thread of his Mediterranean tour, also deplored in his speech the “nationalist selfishness” of Europe who stop immigrants.

“This country, characterized by hospitality, has seen the arrival on some of its islands of a greater number of migrant brothers and sisters than its own inhabitants, thus increasing the problems, which are still affected by the difficulties that it has caused with the economic crisis,” the pope said in his first address on Greek soil.

Amid his complaints in recent hours that the sea that laps European shores is becoming “the biggest graveyard in the world” with “refugee centers that look like concentration camps”, The sovereign pontiff focused his criticism on the migratory management of the continental bloc.

“But European delays also persist. The European community, torn apart by nationalist selfishness, rather than being a train of solidarity, sometimes appears blocked and uncoordinated”, he criticized in this sense.

For Francisco, “if at one time the ideological contrasts prevented the construction of bridges between the east and the west of the continent, today the migration issue has also opened up breaches between the south and the north”.

In this line, Pope Francis will return this Sunday to the Greek island of Lesbos, symbol of the Mediterranean migration dramain which he was already in April 2016 during a trip from which he then returned to Rome with 12 refugees from three Syrian families whom the Vatican helped to house in the Italian capital.

The pontiff landed at Athens airport to continue his tour Photo AFP
The pontiff landed at Athens airport to continue his tour. Photo: AFP

The pontiff will travel to Lesbos from Athens at 9:15 a.m. local time (4:15 a.m. in Argentina) to go immediately to the Mavrovouni refugee camp, or Moria 2, where some 2,500 people survive, 60% of them from Afghanistan.

The gigantic Moria camp, which he visited in 2016 and where some 10,000 migrants were staying, was destroyed by fire in 2020, many of them have therefore been relocated to the center where the pope will speak this Sunday around the 11 inhabitants (6 from Argentina), in front of a group of 200 people and after listening to the testimonies of a refugee and a volunteer.

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