Sakellaropoulou among mourners at Sassoli funeral in Rome

Sakellaropoulou among mourners at Sassoli funeral in Rome

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was among EU and Italian leaders who attended the state funeral in Rome on Friday of David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament who died earlier this week aged 65.

She joined her Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel to pay their respects to the former journalist and long-time MEP at Holy Mary of the Angels church in Rome’s Republic Square.

“With deep sorrow I say goodbye to a devoted European and friend of Greece,” Sakellaropoulou said.

“He handled the problems and challenges of the past two difficult years of the health crisis with unwavering faith in the importance of solidarity and common effort. He played a prominent role in creating an effective recovery mechanism from the pandemic , while working to deepen parliamentary democracy.

“His vision for a Europe that ‘innovates, protects and illuminates,’ as he characteristically put it, is his precious legacy.”

Sassoli died in an Italian hospital on Tuesday. He had suffered for months from poor health following pneumonia caused by the legionella bacteria and abnormal functioning of his immune system.

Bologna Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a friend of Sassoli’s, said in a homily: “For him, politics had to be for the common good. That’s why he wanted a united Europe, with its founding values, and he worked so that its institutions functioned well.”

“Not ideologies, but ideals, not calculations but a vision,″ said the cardinal.

Sassoli’s daughter Livia quoted from her father’s Christmas season message in his EU parliament role that he had issued a few days before his final hospitalization. In that message, the EU parliament’s president had decried that Europe’s “borders in some cases had become borders between that which is moral and that which is immoral, between humanity and lack of humanity.” Sassoli in those words didn’t criticize specific situations or policies, but his reference to European attitudes to migrants was apparent.

Before entering politics, Sassoli worked as a reporter for Italian state television, eventually reaching one of its most prestigious positions – anchor of the network’s main station during the dinnertime news.

Several journalists offered their recollections of him during the service.

His son, Giulio Sassoli, described his father as a person with “strong ideas and gentle ways.” [AMNA, AP]

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