On the eve of the official visit to the Council of Europe by Pope Francis, PACE President Anne Brasseur made the following statement:
“We will be honoured to listen to the message of His Holiness. We must unite in order to combat what Pope Francis rightly calls the ‘globalisation of indifference’. We must also unite, despite our religious, cultural, national or historical differences, in order to defend the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, values that are more threatened than ever. Together we need to do away with the false idea that religion can justify human rights violations.”
Pope Francis will pay an official visit to the Council of Europe on Tuesday, 25 November. Following an invitation by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland at a private audience accorded at Vatican City, His Holiness will address the Organisation, as it celebrates its 65th anniversary, in a solemn session gathering all its institutions (12.40 pm Strasbourg time).
Pope Francis will be welcomed by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, by the Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel (on behalf of the Belgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers), by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly Anne Brasseur, by the President of the Congress Jean-Claude Frécon, by the President of the European Court of Human Rights Dean Spielmann, by the Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and by the President of the Conference of INGOs Jean-Marie Heydt.
The last visit by a Pontiff to the Council of Europe was on 8 October 1988, when Pope John Paul II was welcomed on the eve of the Institution's 40th anniversary.
The Holy See was granted Observer status with the Council of Europe on 7 March 1970, but the co-operation began in 1962.
As a State Party to the European Cultural Convention, the Holy See plays an active role in the cultural work of the Organisation. It also participates in the evaluation and monitoring process of Moneyval.
The Holy See is also member of the following Council of Europe bodies:
European Commission for Democracy through Law (known as the Venice Commission);
Council of Europe Development Bank;
European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (known as the Lisbon North-South Centre).