Pope Francis says world sees EU as 'elderly and haggard'

(Photo: REUTERS / Christian Hartmann)Pope Francis addresses the European Parliament at the institution's headquarters in Strasbourg, November 25, 2014.

Pope Francis has told European lawmakers that the world sees Europe as "somewhat elderly and haggard" during a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

One a day return trip to Strasbourg on Novembr 25 Francis said that despite a larger and stronger Union, "Europe seems to give the impression of ...feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion."

The Argentine pontiff urged a "united response" to the help the boatloads of migrants arriving in Europe in order to prevent the Mediterranean becoming "a vast cemetery."

It was the first time Francis had addressed the European Parliament for the first time and he urged the continent to create jobs.

The Pope said he was bringing a "a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union."

he said they had "envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent.

"At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity.

Francis denounced the global economic system for failing to share wealth making them opt for a tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, which many migrants have died trying to reach.

"The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions," the Pope said.

"This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development," he said.

Francis noted Europe's immigration crisis only days after Italian ships plucked 600 migrants from the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa.

"There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery," he said.

"The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance," said Francis said asking European countries to pool resources to protect immigrants from human traffickers.

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