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Pope Francis: Freedom is under threat in Europe

Pope Francis spoke about the Christian roots of Hungary during his general audience in St. Peter's Square on May 3, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 3, 2023 / 02:21 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that freedom is under threat in Europe, as people choose consumerism and individualism over building families and community.

Even today, “freedom is under threat,” he said May 3. “Above all with kid gloves, by a consumerism that anesthetizes, where one is content with a little material well-being and, forgetting the past, one ‘floats’ in a present made to the measure of the individual.”

“This is the dangerous persecution of modernity that advances consumerism,” he underlined.

“But when the only thing that counts is thinking about oneself and doing what one likes, the roots suffocate,” he warned. “This is a problem throughout Europe, where dedicating oneself to others, community feeling, the beauty of dreaming together and creating large families are in crisis. All of Europe is in crisis.”

Pope Francis spoke about Europe, its roots, and the problem of consumerism, during his weekly audience with the public.

Speaking about his visit to Budapest, Hungary, April 28-30, he asked those present at the audience to think about “the importance of preserving roots, because only by going deep will the branches grow upwards and bear fruit.”

He began his reflection on the three-day trip to Hungary’s capital city by recalling the European country’s Christian roots and the ways those were tested in the 20th century.

“Their faith, as we have heard from the Word of God, has been tested by fire,” he said, noting the atheist persecution in the 1900s, when “Christians were struck down violently, with bishops, priests, religious, and lay people killed or deprived of their freedom.”

“But while attempts were made to cut down the tree of faith, the roots remained intact,” he said, pointing out the steadfastness of the “hidden Church” in Hungary.

“In Hungary, this latest persecution, the Communist oppression was preceded by the Nazi oppression, with the tragic deportation of a large Jewish population,” the pope added.

“But in that atrocious genocide, many distinguished themselves by their resistance and their ability to protect the victims; and this was possible because the roots of living together were firm,” he said. “Thus the common bonds of faith and people helped the return of freedom.”

Quoting St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis also spoke about Hungary’s “many saints and heroes, surrounded by hosts of humble and hard-working people.”

He noted, in particular, the devotion of Hungary’s St. Stephen, to the Virgin Mary.

“I want to recall, at the beginning of the month of May, how very devoted the Hungarians are to the Holy Mother of God,” he said.

“Consecrated to her by the first king, St. Stephen, they used to address her without pronouncing her name, out of respect, calling her only by the titles of Queen,” Pope Francis said. “To the Queen of Hungary, therefore, we entrust that dear country; to the Queen of Peace, we entrust the building of bridges in the world; to the Queen of Heaven, whom we acclaim at this Easter time, we entrust our hearts that they may be rooted in the love of God.”

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  1. “Freedom is under threat in Europe.” He just noticed that? It’s under threat EVERYWHERE.

    I’m sorry to be so sarcastic but with every passing day it becomes increasingly difficult for me to take this man seriously.

    • Sarcasm is likely the most polite response possible, especially in reply to one who is very much at the heart of the problem.

      • “This is the dangerous persecution of modernity that advances consumerism,”

        This is the most nonsensical statement ever made by any human being in human history. An evil result “persecutes” a presumed good, subsequently described as an evil for promoting the evil that gave rise to the evil that performed the persecution in the first place.
        Francis refuses to understand how evil exists in the human experience because his ego is so consumed with ignoring how the moral absolutes he often trivializes despite their origins from the mind of God. He is a secular elitist at heart and believes the world’s progressives can engineer evil out of existence with enough attacks on impersonal forces requiring structural reforms rather than personal redemptive actions.

        • May the Almighty have mercy on us. I’ll pray today for unity in the Church from one of the seven images of Fatima’s Madonna, in Venice.

  2. Conversion is an ongoing and a never-ending opportunity. “Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Mahatma Gandhi

  3. Contemplating the rising storm clouds in 1940, the Anglo-Catholic T.S. Eliot already mourned over the loss of freedom–and truth–across what had once been Christendom. He made some initial proposals for a “Community of Christians” buoyed in part of Education. He wrote:

    “[in this essay] I was less concerned with the more superficial, through important differences between the regimens of different nations [Britain contrasted with Germany and Russia], than with the more profound differences between pagan and Christian society [….]
    “To justify Christianity because it provides a foundation of morality, instead of showing the necessity of Christian morality from the truth of Christianity, is a very dangerous inversion [….]
    “It is not enthusiasm [he cites a flicker of Anglican “revivalism” in 1938], but dogma [!], that differentiates a Christian from a pagan society” (“The Idea of a Christian Society,” 1940).

    In our now more septic state of paganism, wondering here if progressive and big-tent Synodality in 2023 (where even rudimentary sexual morality is up for grabs) will even try to catch up with Eliot in 1940?

  4. I suppose we need to credit Pope Francis for finally recognizing that freedom is under threat in Europe (and not just there!) He does need to investigate the source a little more rigorously. It comes not from some abstract consumerism, however evil and empty that theory is. Rather it originates from the ideas and actions of his friends and allies in the EU, the Democrat Party, the international banking cartels, the tech and pharmaceutical industries, and other pillars of the Great Reset for which he serves as chaplain.

  5. So this explains a lot! You know how Bergoglio always seems to be trying to destroy the Church?

    That’s not what he’s doing at all!

    He’s just trying to give Catholics enough adversity to shake us out of our lethargy!

    Makes perfect sense!


  6. Is consumerism to blame for the unbelievable new “hate speech” law in Ireland? Try harder, Holy Father!

    • Materialism/consumerism is responsible for Ireland losing its Catholic soul & it set the stage for outside interests to successfully lobby for the acceptance of feticide, homosexual unions, & the rest of it. “Hate” laws are just the next chapter.
      Sadly, the Protestant North has held on to their traditional views on family & marriage a whole lot better than the Catholic South has. I never thought I’d be praising Ian Paisley, but that sort of stubbornness has its virtues.

      • Well, yes, I can sort of see the progression of regressions you delineate here, although consumerism by itself did not bring Ireland or us to this unhappy place. A large dose of cultural Marxism it its many versions – feminism, multiculturalism, critical race theory and others – was added to the mix to make that happen. I will grant that consumerism helped to weaken resistance to this posion.

  7. Freedom is realized in the exercise of our human rights, faith, family, sufficient and secure living conditions. Pope Francis’ policy on migration, largely from Muslim Africa and the Near East, described by Vat Secy of State Card Parolin to Italy’s PM Giorgia Meloni as, Welcome, Protection, Promotion and Integration – are antithetical to those rights. As they are to the rights of Americans with Pres Biden’s open border policy promoted by our USCCB in fealty to Pope Francis. The open border EU policy and the Biden administration’s policy is highly favored by Francis and actually defines his definition of Modernism.
    Giorgia Meloni is strongly opposed to this policy which puts her at odds with Vatican policy. She argues we’re stripping Africa of its geological resources and leaving little in terms of development, while simultaneously stripping Africa of its vital human resources, causing irreparable damage to migrants exploited by Mafia, [in America by the Mexican drug cartels] unable, unwilling to integrate, hostile to Christianity [actually polls indicate most S American migrants renounce their Catholicism].
    If the Vatican were prepared to alleviate the human misery of world migration Pope Francis should use his influence with his friends George Soros, Bill Gates to foster investment in the impoverished, exploited areas of Africa and the Near East. Then ‘consumerism’ might become a blessing for those peoples.

    • It’s true that Latin American immigrants are increasingly non Catholic but many are Pentecostal rather than non believers.

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