Immediately after his arrival in Lisbon for World Youth Day 2023, Pope Francis addressed a delegation of important political and economic officials. The agenda seems set.
Inhalt / Content
- 1 Pontifex sought out the “staff” first
- 2 International understanding – cosmopolitanism
- 3 Pope raves about the open sea
- 4 Excursion to pagan gods
- 5 Pope dreams of peacemaker Europe
- 6 The addressees have probably understood
Pontifex sought out the “staff” first
Pope Francis has arrived in Lisbon, Portugal for World Youth Day 2023. There the pontiff wants to tell the young people gathered from all over the world about his world views in the light of the Roman Catholic catechism. But before he made a public appearance in front of the youth, Francis gave his first speech in front of a selected delegation of officials from the political and civil society sectors “befitting his status”. In attendance were the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and others from the world of diplomacy. Important figures from the economic camp were also present.
The speech given by the Pope to this high-ranking delegation was put online by Vatican News as the official German translation.
International understanding – cosmopolitanism
The pontifex didn’t beat about the bush at all and immediately began his speech with the permanently hotly knitted needle of international understanding. He described the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, as a city of encounters between different cultures and peoples. This theme is becoming “even more universal these days,” said the Pope. Therefore, to a certain extent, Lisbon is becoming “the capital of the world”. The head of the church targeted the Lisbon district of Mouraria. A district in which people from more than sixty countries have gathered “in harmony”. This is evidence of the “cosmopolitan character of Portugal”. This character is rooted in a desire to “open up to the world and explore it by venturing to new and wider horizons.”
There is often more between the lines
At this point, every listener was allowed to choose whether the pontiff was addressing the not exactly creditable colonial power of Portugal, or whether this should be a vision he had in mind for an open-hearted reception of a future wave of new arrivals. Anyone who understands any of the Pope’s speeches as a call to action standing between the lines will certainly recognize the right instructions for himself.
Pope raves about the open sea
The Pope obviously has a passion for the open sea. In a wall of emotional philosophy, he paid homage to Lisbon’s unique location. For centuries people believed that this was the end of the world and, in a certain sense, this was actually true, Francis said. This country borders the ocean and therefore we would be “at the ends of the world” which demarcates the continents. “Lisbon smells of flowers and sea”, is the nostalgic title of a song well-known in Lisbon quoted by Francis. It is a reputation engraved in the soul of every Portuguese. “Sounding sea, sea without bottom, sea without end”, so the words of a poetess from Lisbon. In the next example, however, Pope Francis was already speaking of a “prayer” which was followed by another poet: “God of the sea, give us more waves, God of the earth, give us more sea”. The pontiff explained that, given the Portuguese way of thinking about the ocean, he too wanted to share some thoughts and follow the image of the ocean.
The Sea – The Earth – The Third
Anyone who has Revelation, the last book of the Bible, in their head to some extent should immediately remember chapter 13 after this shown preference for the open sea. The beast from the sea and the beast from the earth are two of the three main characters appearing in this chapter. The third in the alliance is the “dragon”, together they have the name “Babylon“. The visionary image presented by the Pope directly invites one to imagine a wide sea stretching to the horizon, over which the sun has just risen. An image that many of the listeners present with an available box number could have had in mind, including the correct classification of the speaker at the podium.
Excursion to pagan gods
Subsequently, Francis seemed to deviate from the official catechism and possibly made use of other literature found in the Vatican archives. The pope cited classical mythology about Okeanos, the son of heaven (Uranus). The expanse of the Ocean leads mortals to look up and “soar towards infinity”. But Okeanos is at the same time the son of the earth (Gaea). Embrace these Okeanos and invite them to “envelop the entire inhabited world in tenderness”. After all, the ocean not only connects peoples and states, but also countries and continents, said the pontiff. Lisbon is a city of the ocean and that reminds us of the importance of being together. Border areas must be understood as points of contact and not as borders. “We know that today the big questions are of a global nature,” said the Pope. At the moment, however, the world is not closed enough to tackle this agreement and this threatens everyone. The wars, the injustices and the climate and migration crises progressed faster “than the ability and often also the will to face these challenges together”.
The Catholic Catechism Bared
The pontiff’s reach into the mythology box was only an apparent digression from the catechism. In fact, these recited “Tales of Foreign Deities” are implemented in the Catechism, but in a Christian guise. The very “exaltation to infinity” of mortals is found in the Catechism of the Church of Rome. The “mortal” had an immortal soul and Jesus Christ came into this world to “divinize” man. In addition, the figures mentioned by the Pope and their constellations could also be exchanged for the names Osiris, Horus and Isis. Whether the earth is now called Gaea and Gaia is also irrelevant here. It is a worship of nature with the pagan gods of Babylon and ancient Egypt standing in the background. An ideology cultivated by Francis of Assisi, among others, and relaunched today under the name “Laudato si‘”.
The “tenderness of the embrace” described by the Pope can definitely be understood here as poisoned, sugar-sweet wine. The change in strategy he initiated compared to his predecessor Benedict XVI cannot be overlooked.
Pope dreams of peacemaker Europe
Pope Francis also had a few kind words for Europe. After all, a groundbreaking EU treaty was signed in Lisbon on July 23, 2007(Treaty of Lisbon). The declared goal emphasized by the Pope is “to promote peace, their values and the well-being of their peoples.” In the relationship with the rest of the world, it is assured that it will contribute “to peace, security, global sustainable development, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, to free and fair trade, to the eradication of poverty and to the protection of human rights”. Lisbon could have an accelerating effect here.
According to the Pope, the world needs Europe, the true Europe. This needs its “role as a bridge builder and as a peacemaker in its eastern part, in the Mediterranean region, in Africa and in the Middle East”.
The pontiff indicated that he dreamed of a Europe “as the heart of the West”. Ingenuity must be used to put out trouble spots and kindle lights of hope. “A Europe that knows how to rediscover its young soul, that dreams of the greatness of being together and that goes beyond the needs of the moment”. This Europe must include peoples and people without “chasing after ideological theories and colonization,” said the Pope.
EU or Europe? It doesn’t matter – the agenda is set
The fact that the Pope also lumps the terms “European Union” and Europe together is an open question. After all, the European Union occupies less than half the area of the USA, but Europe has a larger area than the USA. So much for the subtle difference. But the pontiff seems to have marked out the area of responsibility of this political and economic association of countries with his speech. If the pontiff dreams of an influential “Europe”, then of a “Europe” as it was between the 6th and late 18th centuries. He himself, the “one and only supreme bridge builder”, of course in an exalted position in the global overview. By mentioning that Europe has a “young soul” that needs to be rediscovered, Francis probably gave those present a riddle to take home. After all, continental Europe and the peoples living on it have more than 2000 years of history behind them. The narrative that the EU should be equated with Europe seems to be on the Vatican’s agenda as well.
The addressees have probably understood
The Pope’s speech, held before the rulers and “powerful” of the economy, can be understood as a position paper including work instructions. The pope has clearly defined the boss, employees, sphere of activity and tasks. In any case, it cannot be overlooked from which corner his “theological background” originates. The Pope’s message will certainly have reached those addressed.