By Courtney Mares
While recovering in the hospital, Pope Francis sent a message to the largest political party in the European Parliament.
In a letter to the European People’s Party published by the Vatican on June 11, the pope urged politicians to be united on “issues where primary ethical values and important points of Christian social doctrine are at stake.”
“The Christian politician should distinguish himself by the seriousness with which he approaches issues, rejecting opportunistic solutions and always holding firm to the criteria of the dignity of the person and the common good,” Pope Francis said.
“In this regard, you have a very rich heritage on which to draw to bring your original contribution to European politics, namely the social doctrine of the Church. Think, for example, of the two principles of solidarity and subsidiarity and their virtuous dynamic.”
Pope Francis signed the letter on June 9, two days after he underwent a three-hour surgery for an incisional hernia. A team of surgeons removed scar tissue and operated on a hernia in the pope’s abdominal wall at the site of a previous surgical incision.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said June 11 that Pope Francis’ “post-operative progress is normal.” He added that the pope watched Sunday Mass on television and received the Eucharist in his hospital room before praying the Angelus in the papal medical suitechapel and eating lunch with some hospital staff.
The 86-year-old pope is expected to remain recovering in Rome’s Gemelli hospital for the next week. The Vatican has canceled all of the pope’s audiences, including his Sunday Angelus address, until June 18.
In his message to the European People’s Party, the pope said that he views human fraternity as “the great inspiring principle” for tackling the challenges of migration and caring for the planet.
“I think that fraternity can also be a source of inspiration for those who want to re-animate Europe today so that it fully responds to the expectations of both its peoples and the whole world. Because a European project today can only be a global project,” Francis said.
The European People’s Party is a center-right political group in the European Union, made up of 40 parties across Europe, including Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, The Republicans of France, Forza Italia of Italy, the People’s Party in Spain, and Fine Gael of Ireland.
The party was founded as the Christian Democrat Group in 1953 and traces its roots back to Venerable Robert Schuman, known as a key “founding father” of the European Union.
“Dear friends, let us remember our origins: let us not forget how united Europe was born; let us not forget the tragedy of the wars of the 20th century,” Pope Francis wrote.
“The gradual and patient work of building a united Europe … what did it have in it as inspiration? What ideal, if not to generate a space where people could live in freedom, justice, and peace, respecting each other in diversity? Today this project is being tested in a globalized world, but it can be revived by drawing on the original inspiration, which is more relevant and fruitful than ever not only for Europe but for the entire human family.”