ROME — Pope Francis on Tuesday severely refused to use the cross as a political tool. This is a clear swipe of European and later nationalist forces using the image of Christianity for personal gain.
“Don’t give the cross back to the object of dedication, let alone a sign of political symbolism, religious and social status,” Francis said during a four-day visit to the country and Hungary in eastern Slovakia. Travel since having had bowel surgery in July.
The statement was made two days after Francis stopped in Budapest, where he characterized Hungarian Christian roots and identity in his political message and policy, including anti-immigrant and nationalist measures. I met the Prime Minister.
“The cross is not a waving flag, but a pure source of a new way of life,” Francis said, adding that Christians “see everyone as brothers or sisters, not enemies.”
Francis has a track record of speaking more freely and critically about the country after leaving the country. In 2017, he spoke in support of a Rohingya minority persecuted in Myanmar after leaving Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh.
On Sunday, he urged Hungarian bishops to embrace diversity. And after celebrating the Mass there, he put Mr. Oban in the front row, saying that his strong Christian roots allowed the country to reach out “to all.”
But the Pope’s remarks in Slovakia on Tuesday were even dull. He appeared to have spread criticism to politicians and activists who used Christian references and symbols to lay the ground in so-called cultural wars.
“How often do we look forward to the winner’s Christianity,” he asked. “Important and influential victorious Christianity that receives glory and honor.”
Francis spoke with about 30,000 followers in Prešov, eastern Slovakia. There he presided over the Byzantine Rite, known as the Divine Liturgy, used in the Eastern Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
He then added to his message of inclusion by traveling to meet Rome, a country that has long experienced discrimination and poverty, in the devastated and isolated settlements of Kosice.
In honor of him on Tuesday, Francis elaborated on the Christian identity and lamented that the cross and the cross were too mere ornaments to dilute their true meaning.
What is the value of hanging a cross from a rearview mirror or neck if a person does not have a meaningful relationship with Jesus? “What’s good about this?” He said, “unless we stop seeing Jesus crucified and open our hearts to him?”
In recent years, some European politicians have used religious symbols as part of their campaign message centered on identity politics.
In Italy, populist league leader Matteo Salvini often campaigned with beads in his hand. At a rally with the far-right leaders of France, Germany and the Netherlands, he also called for the protection of the Virgin Mary against Italy.
Some of the Vatican’s conservative cardinals, many of whom are very critical of Francis, spoke enthusiastically about Salvini and expressed sympathy for Olburn.
In an interview before the Pope’s visit on Sunday, some Hungarian priests and other Catholics in Budapest reiterated Mr. Oban’s emphasis on Hungary as a Christian country. They said the prime minister was unfairly criticized for confronting the wave of migration, primarily Muslims. It was compared to the aggression he made.
On Sunday, Mr. Olburn and Mr. Francis were convened for a 40-minute courtesy meeting, and the Prime Minister urged the deities to “do not destroy Christian Hungary.”
Francisco spent only seven hours in Hungary, despite being told by the bishops to stay longer.
The Vatican said the Pope’s visit to Budapest was essentially purely spiritual to celebrate the closing Mass of the week-long Catholic Conference. But others close to the Pope have an implicit message to Mr. Oban about the discrepancy between the time spent in Hungary and the time spent in Slovakia, led by a progressive president who is critical of nationalism like Francis. Admitted that there may be.