In Greece, Pope expresses concern for democracy's decline in Europe

ATHENS, Greece (CNS) -- From Aristotle to St. Gregory Nazianzus, and from the Acropolis to the olive tree, Pope Francis drew from Greek history and culture to appeal for a faith that is lived in good works and a politics that truly seeks the common good.

Arriving in Greece from Cyprus Dec. 4, Pope Francis went directly from the airport to meetings with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and then a large group of political, civic and cultural representatives.

"Here democracy was born," he told the representatives. "Yet we cannot avoid noting with concern how today -- and not only in Europe -- we are witnessing a retreat from democracy."

"Democracy requires participation and involvement on the part of all; consequently, it demands hard work and patience," he said. "It is complex, whereas authoritarianism is peremptory, and populism's easy answers appear attractive."

A political stance that seeks only popularity and easy answers is not worthy either of the description politics or of a place in a democracy, Pope Francis said.

"Politics is, and ought to be in practice, a good thing, as the supreme responsibility of citizens and as the art of the common good," he said. "So that the good can be truly shared, particular attention -- I would even say priority -- should be given to the weaker strata of society."