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ROME -- As Pope Francis told a gathering of top EU leaders, "The identity of Europe is and always has been a dynamic and multicultural identity." Not referring to the Christian roots of the continent does not mean Francis asks his Church to shy away. On the contrary, he wants it to be at the forefront of a fresh new energy.
At a time when the European project is at a standstill due to successive crises that have triggered nationalist pushes throughout the European Union, political ideologues and forecasters struggle to predict what awaits, or give a clear path that would enable Europeans to feel inclined to take the experiment further. One element they seem to agree upon, though, is the necessity for influential member states to be led by powerful, respected and visionary leaders.
My imaginary friend Stella and I, having fled an Italy crushed by inequity, thought at the time that there was precious little to lose. But Italy is changing. For real. And Stella and I are changing along with her. For us it's a wonderful breath of fresh air to realize that there is still a country we can return to, and for which we can still have hope.