Pope laments a 'tired' Europe; decries joblessness

By Frances D'emilio

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 15 2014 2:11 p.m. MDT

Andrea Riccardi, first left, founder of a Catholic organization, Sant'Egidio Community, greets Pope Francis as he arrives for a meeting in Rome, Sunday, June 15, 2014. Pope Francis is criticizing Europe for becoming "tired" because of low birth rates and increasing numbers of young people who neither work nor study.

Riccardo De Luca, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

ROME — Pope Francis on Sunday criticized Europe for becoming what he called "tired" because of low birth rates and the increasing numbers of young people who neither work nor study.

Francis delivered the harsh assessment as he visited an ancient Rome basilica in Trastevere, a traditionally working-class neighborhood that is also home to a Catholic organization, Sant'Egidio Community, whose volunteers help the elderly, immigrants and other needy.

Francis said Europe often "discards" both its elderly, by shunting them aside, and its young, by failing to provide work.

"A people which doesn't care for its elderly, which doesn't take care of its young people, is a people without a future, a people without hope," Francis said.

The pope said by helping both young and old, "you begin to renew society."

As he did earlier in the day, when he addressed tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square, Francis asked for others' prayers.

"You need to pray for me in overtime," Francis quipped.

Last week, Francis canceled two days of meetings after coming down with what the Vatican would only describe as a "mild" illness. He was back in the public eye Wednesday, appearing to hold up well in the hot, humid heat during his weekly audience.

Earlier Sunday, Francis announced he had accepted an invitation to go to Albania in September. In August, he flies to South Korea for events that include a jamboree with Catholic youths.

Follow Frances D'Emilio on Twitter at www.twitter.com.fdemilio

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