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Pope Francis: Do not be afraid to suffer criticism or economic loss to be faithful to the Gospel

June 25, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
Pope Francis waves to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address on June 25, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has urged Christians not to be afraid of suffering criticism, economic loss, and persecution for being faithful to what the Church teaches.

“There is a cost to remain faithful to what counts. The cost is going against the tide, freeing oneself from being conditioned by popular opinion, being separated from those who ‘follow the current,’” Pope Francis said on June 25.

In his Sunday Angelus address, the pope underlined how Jesus’ words “do not be afraid” still apply today. He reflected in particular on Jesus’ warning in the Gospel of Matthew: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt. 10:28).

Pope Francis said: “It was like saying: You do not need so much to be afraid of suffering misunderstanding and criticism, of losing prestige and economic advantages to remain faithful to the Gospel, but of wasting your existence in the pursuit of trivial things that do not fill life with meaning.”

Pope Francis gives his Sunday Angelus address on June 25, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis gives his Sunday Angelus address on June 25, 2023. Vatican Media

The pope explained how Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid shortly after telling them about the persecutions that they would have to undergo for the Gospel, something, he noted, that still applies today.

“Since her beginning, in fact, the Church has experienced many persecutions, along with joys—of which there have been many. It seems paradoxical: the proclamation of the Kingdom of God is a message of peace and justice, founded on fraternal charity and on forgiveness; and yet it meets with opposition, violence, and persecution,” he said.

“Jesus, however, says not to fear, not because everything will be all right in the world, no, but because we are precious to his Father and nothing that is good will be lost.”

Pope Francis added that Jesus’ warning means that the only true fear one should have is of throwing one’s life away chasing things that do not ultimately matter.

“Even today, in fact, some are ridiculed or discriminated against for not following certain fads, which, however, place second-rate realities at the center – for example, to follow after things instead of people, achievement instead of relationships,” he said.

The pope gave the example of a priest or religious sister who dedicates his or her time to service, while forgetting to dedicate time to being with Jesus, falling into spiritual worldliness, or parents who spend all their time working to provide for their family without spending enough time with their children.

He added that young people can also get so caught up in sports, school, social media, and their cell phones that they focus too much of their time on “passing things.”

“All of this requires some renunciation regarding the idols of efficiency and consumerism. … Think of the least who are often treated like waste products and unwanted objects,” Pope Francis said.

“What matters is not to throw away the greatest good: life. This is the only thing that should frighten us,” he added.

After praying the Angelus prayer in Latin with the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square, the pope gave a shoutout to volunteers with Radio Maria Italy who held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vatican Media
Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vatican Media

The pope said that he was saddened to learn of the prison riot in the Támara Women’s Penitentiary Center in Honduras earlier this week in which 46 inmates were killed.

“Terrible violence between rival gangs sowed death and suffering,” he said. “I pray for the deceased, I pray for the family members. May the Virgin of Suyapa, Mother of Honduras, help hearts open to reconciliation and make room for fraternal coexistence, even within prisons.”

Pope Francis also marked the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old girl who went missing in Rome on June 22, 1983, after leaving her home in Vatican City State.

“I would like to use this anniversary to express, once again, my closeness to the family members, especially her mother, and assure them of my prayers. I extend a remembrance to all families who bear the sorrow of a dear one who has disappeared,” he said.


The Dispatch

Pope Francis: Freedom is under threat in Europe

May 3, 2023 Catholic News Agency 15
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.”