Pope Francis says 'old infertile granny' Europe should stop treating people as 'cogs in machine'

Pope Francis says 'old infertile granny' Europe should stop treating people as 'cogs in machine'
Addressing the European Parliament for the first time, Pope Francis has alluded to a general impression of “ageing and weariness” in Europe and said a new spirit should be built, where humans are treated not as programmable objects.

“In many quarters, we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a 'grandmother', no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions,” the Pope said.

The pontiff said there are many situations in which human beings are treated “as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age."

He warned, however, against misunderstanding the concept of human rights and from its misuse, saying there is a "tendency to claim ever broader individual rights these days."

"In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence,"
Pope Francis has warned.

Francis said Europe should create jobs, noting that technical and economic questions are currently dominating political debate, much "to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings."

"Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb."

This handout photo released by the Council of Europe on November 25, 2014 shows Pope Francis adressing the assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France, on November 25, 2014 (AFP Photo / HO)

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Argentine pope said the challenge is to shape a Europe "which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values."

Francis said among Europe's top priorities were "finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers," as well as "favoring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labor, their ability to create a family and educate their children."

Speaking just several days after 600 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa, Pope Francis couldn't help mentioning Europe's immigration crisis.

"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. The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labor and continuing social tensions,"
he added.