In remarks reminiscent of the structure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, the pope called on leaders to embrace the vision of Europe’s founders and open up their borders to displaced people fleeing unrest in their home countries.
“I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime, but a summons to a greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being,” Francis said. “I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties toward all. I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.”
“We, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there,” Francis continued. Today, more than ever, he added, “their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls.”
“What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?” Francis questioned. “What has happened to you, Europe … the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you … the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”
Pope Francis criticized the “self interests” prompting European Union leaders to enforce stringent immigration policies that shut out desperate refugees during his acceptance speech for the Charlemagne Prize — an award to promote European unification — on Friday.