Pope warns EU risks future if it doesn’t confront challenges

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Pope Francis marks a point as he talks to reporters during a press conference he held on an aircraft taking him back from Sibiu, Romania, to Rome, Sunday, June 2, 2019. Francis travelled across Romania to visit its far-flung Catholic communities to make up for the fact that St. John Paul II was only allowed to visit the capital, Bucharest, in 1999 in the first papal visit to a majority Orthodox country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is warning that the Europe Union risks losing its influence and very essence as a unified bloc if political leaders don’t reawaken the dreams of its founding fathers.

Francis appealed for prayers and hope that Europe not be “beaten by pessimism and ideologies.” He said: “If Europe is not careful about the future challenges, Europe will dry up.”

Francis spoke to reporters en route home from Romania on Sunday a week after European Parliament elections marked by a rise in far-right parties skeptical of the EU.

In the news conference, Francis also criticized fundamentalist, traditionalist Catholics who he said are stuck in the past, saying true tradition “is always in movement.”

He said: “Tradition is the guarantee for the future, and not the container for the ashes.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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