EU flags hang on the coffin of EU Parliament President Sassoli

Italy pays tribute to EU Parliament President David Sassoli, who died earlier this week, with state funeral

ROME — With European Union flags hanging on the coffin, Italy held a state funeral on Friday for European Union Parliament President David Sassoli, who died earlier this week.

Senior EU officials, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, attended the ceremony at St. Mary’s Church in Piazza della Repubblica. Also in attendance were Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Sassoli’s friend, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, said in a sermon: “For him, politics must be for the common good. That’s why he wants a united Europe, with it ‘s founding values, and his job is to make it work well.”

“Not ideology, but ideal, not calculation, but vision,” the cardinal said.

Sassoli’s daughter Livia cited her father’s Christmas season message in the European Parliament, which he released days before his last hospital stay. In that message, the president of the European Parliament condemned Europe’s “in some cases borders have become the border between morality and immorality, between humanity and lack of humanity”. Sassoli did not criticize specific situations or policies in those words, but he mentioned that Europe’s attitude towards immigration was evident.

Before entering politics, Sassori worked as a reporter for Italian national television, eventually reaching one of the station’s most prestigious positions as anchor for the dinnertime news channel.

Several reporters raised their recollections of him during the service.

His son, Giulio Sassoli, described his father as a man of “strong thoughts and gentle ways”.

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