“A Europe capable of giving birth to a new humanism based on three capacities: the capacity to integrate, the capacity for dialogue and the capacity to generate” is what Pope Francis says he is hoping for. He made this remark today upon receiving the Charlemagne Prize, awarded by the foundation of the same name to those who distinguish themselves throughout the year for their work in favour of integration and union in Europe.
On 23 December 2015, in Aachen, Germany, it was announced by the executive committee that in 2016 the prize would be awarded to Pope Francis for the message of peace and understanding promoted during his papacy. On this occasion the jury affirmed, “In these times, in which many European citizens are seeking guidance, the Holy Father gives a message of love and encouragement.”
The ceremony, which was attended by major European figures such as King Felipe VI of Spain; the Grand-duke of Luxembourg, Henri of Orange-Nassau; the German chancellor Angela Merkel; the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi; and the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, began with the “laudatio” pronounced by Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament; Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.
In the Sala Ducale the choir of the Cathedral of Aachen performed four pieces: at the beginning of the event, before and after the Pope’s address, and at the end. Speeches were also made by the mayor of Aachen, Marcel Philipp and the president of the Charlemagne Foundation, Jürgen Linden, who read the reasons for the jury’s decision. The ceremony was attended by more than five hundred people, including previous prizewinners Andrea Riccardi, president of the Sant’Egidio Community, and Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank.
In his address, the Pope emphasises that European identity is and has always been dynamic and multicultural, and he encourages the “arming” of the young with the culture of dialogue and encounter to create “coalitions”, not only military and economic, but also cultural, educational, philosophical and religious.
He also evoked Europe’s founding fathers, who “were prepared to pursue alternative and innovative paths in a world scarred by war. Not only did they boldly conceive the idea of Europe, but they dared to change radically the models that had led only to violence and destruction”, daring to to seek multilateral solutions to increasingly shared problems.
He also reaffirmed that the Church can and must support the rebirth of a Europe that is weary but also still rich in energies and possibilities, as “her task is one with her mission: the proclamation of the Gospel, which today more than ever finds expression in going forth to bind the wounds of humanity with the powerful yet simple presence of Jesus, and His mercy that consoles and encourages”.
See full text here: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-for-being-awarded-charlemagne-prize/