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Remember shattered walls of past divisions, pope tells EU leaders


  • Pope Francis greets Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni during the European Union summit at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via EPA)
  • Pope Francis speaks during the European Union summit at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
  • Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household, right, greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, as they arrive March 24 for the European Union summit with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)
  • Pope Francis speaks during the European Union summit at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via EPA)
  • Pope Francis speaks during the European Union summit at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
  • Pope Francis speaks during the European Union summit at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Europe must recover the memories and lessons of past tragedies in order to confront the challenges Europeans face today that seek to divide rather than unite humanity, Pope Francis said.

While the founding fathers of what is now the European Union worked toward a "united and open Europe," free of the "walls and divisions" erected after World War II, the tragedy of poverty and violence affecting millions of innocent people lingers on, the pope told European leaders gathered at the Vatican March 24.

"Where generations longed to see the fall of those signs of forced hostility, these days we debate how to keep out the 'dangers' of our time, beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones," he said.

Pope Francis welcomed the 27 European heads of state to the Vatican to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which gave birth to European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.

Signed March 25, 1957, the treaties sought to unite Europe following the devastation wrought by World War II. The agreements laid the groundwork for what eventually became the European Union.

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