“Refresh european project”

There are plenty of political ies Pope Francis could address Tuesday in Strasbourg during his speeches to the EU Parliament and the 47-nation Council of Europe. An overview of expectations from Brussels.

According to Caritas Europa, the Pope must draw the attention of decision-makers in Europe above all to the disadvantaged in society. His speech could provide an impetus "to refresh the European project; to remember again what it was made for and on what values it is based," said the Secretary General of Caritas Europa, Nuno Mayer, of the Catholic News Agency (KNA) in Brussels.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Wishes for clear statements by the Pope on solidarity, which is a foundation of Europe and the Christian faith. Above all, greater solidarity with refugees in the Mediterranean is needed, because "the cooperation between the Frontex operation and Triton is good, but not enough," the JRS said.

The President of the EU Bishops' Commission COMECE, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Hopes upcoming speeches will provide impetus for peace and reconciliation. "He must also talk about the war that is on our continent," said Marx, who is also archbishop of Munich and Freising and president of the German Bishops' Conference. Therefore, he said, the Pope's visit to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, to which Russia and Ukraine also belong, has a special significance.

The Head of the Brussels office of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Katrin Hatzinger, Wishes the Pope's appearance to be a clear sign "that the churches, as social actors, have something to offer to politics". They could bring ethical guidance and discursive power to the political process. "It would be nice if it would not remain only with isolated visits of the Pope, but also representatives of other denominations and religions would be regular guests," said Hatzinger.

The EU social association Eurodiaconia Hopes for strong words from the Pope on the ies of poverty and exclusion. "These are the central ies in the EU that need to be talked about," said Secretary General Heather Roy. The Catholic Development umbrella organization CIDSE would like to see a strong impulse on the topics of environment and climate.

As Francis is "a man of the church, not a politician," expects the former president of the EU parliament Hans-Gert Pottering a speech about Christians' commitment to peace, justice and human rights. The Pope's visit shows a high esteem he has for the European institutions, she said.

A comparison with the speech of John Paul II. in the fall of 1988, which Pottering witnessed as a parliamentarian, is not directly possible. At the time, the EU was "in a completely different global political constellation".

In the view of Green Group in the EU Parliament Francis' speech is a chance for the head of the church to make a strong case for climate protection and action against poverty. The group wants to hand over a letter with demands to the Pope; the exact content is still being worked out. The Greens invited a group of migrants, homosexuals and transgender people to Parliament for the Pope's speech.

According to the Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, the Pope's visit is a "signal for the EU as a peace power and for democracy". The pope has the chance to shake Europe awake, "for example, on the topics of Europe's Christian roots, our responsibility from it for the world".

The SPD Member Bernd Lange Hopes for a special focus of the Pope on those values of Europe that have a strong relation to Christian values. "Europeans should become more aware of this – especially in light of global developments," Lange said. A reference to human rights, social justice and peaceful problem solving in the speech could be a driver for an active foreign and trade policy.

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