In his address to a Catholic university in Hungary, Pope Francis spoke about the false freedoms offered by both communism and consumerism, and encouraged people to seek out Christ’s truth. / Vatican News
Pope Francis stands on an altar erected outside the Parliament Building in Budapest’s Kossuth Lajos’ Square during a public outdoor Mass on April 30, 2023. / Vatican Media
CNA Staff, Apr 30, 2023 / 05:47 am (CNA).
During an outdoor Mass in Budapest on Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis called on Hungarians to be “open and inclusive,” reflecting on how Jesus wants his flock to share the abundant life they’ve received from him.
“Though we are diverse and come from different communities, the Lord has brought us together, so that his immense love can enfold us in one embrace,” the pope said in his April 30 homily, speaking in bright sunshine to more than 50,000 people gathered in and around the Hungarian capital’s picturesque Kossuth Lajos Square.
“[A]ll of us are called to cultivate relationships of fraternity and cooperation, avoiding divisions,” he said, “not retreating into our own community, not concerned to stake out our individual territory, but rather opening our hearts to mutual love.”
Prior to Mass, held outside the city’s majestic neo-Gothic Parliament building, the pope was transported in his wheelchair to a specially constructed altar platform flanked by banners in the colors of the Vatican and Hungarian flags and simply adorned with a towering wooden crucifix.
Cardinal Peter Erdő, the archbishop of Budapest, was the principal celebrant of the Mass; since the pope’s knee injury has impeded his mobility, he has called on cardinals to take his place at the altar.
In his homily, Francis zeroed in on “two specific things that, according to the Gospel, [the Good Shepherd] does for the sheep. He calls them by name, and then he leads them out.”
“The history of salvation does not begin with us, with our merits, our abilities, and our structures. It begins with the call of God,” the pope said.
“[T]his morning, in this place, we sense the joy of our being God’s holy people. All of us were born of his call.”
Pope Francis said he spoke especially “to myself and to my brother bishops and priests: to those of us who are shepherds.” He called on the faithful to be “increasingly open doors: ‘facilitators’ — that’s the word — of God’s grace, masters of closeness; let us be ready to offer our lives, even as Christ … teaches us with open arms from the throne of the cross and shows us daily as the living Bread broken for us on the altar.”
Seeing closed doors is “sad and painful,” the pope said. He referred specifically to the “closed doors of our selfishness with regard to others; the closed doors of our individualism amid a society of growing isolation; the closed doors of our indifference towards the underprivileged and those who suffer; the doors we close towards those who are foreign or unlike us, towards migrants or the poor.”
The pope’s plea was, “Please, let us open those doors! Let us try to be — in our words, deeds, and daily activities — like Jesus, an open door.”
As open doors, the Lord of life can enter our hearts, Pope Francis assured, with “words of consolation and healing.”
Speaking to his Hungarian hosts, he urged them to be “open and inclusive” and “in this way, help Hungary to grow in fraternity, which is the path of peace,” an apparent reference to the country’s contested migration policies.
While the pope has praised the country for being a leader in assisting persecuted Christians in other countries and welcoming more than a million war refugees from neighboring Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s curbing of migrants from the Middle East and Africa is generally seen as being at odds with the pope’s call to openness. During the migrant crisis of 2015, Orbán sealed Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, closing off the main land route into Europe.
Pope Francis ended his homily with a reminder that Jesus “calls us by name and cares for us with infinitely tender love. He is the door, and all who enter through him have eternal life. He is our future, a future of ‘life in abundance.’
“Let us never be discouraged,” the pope said. “Let us never be robbed of the joy and peace he has given us. Let us never withdraw into our own problems or turn away from others in apathy. May the Good Shepherd accompany us always: with him, our lives, our families, our Christian communities and all of Hungary will flourish with new and abundant life!”
In his Regina Caeli reflection after the Mass, the pope referenced the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.
“Blessed Virgin, watch over the peoples who suffer so greatly. In a special way, watch over the neighboring, beleaguered Ukrainian people and the Russian people, both consecrated to you,” he said.
“You, who are the Queen of Peace, instill in the hearts of peoples and their leaders the desire to build peace and to give the younger generations a future of hope, not war, a future full of cradles not tombs, a world of brothers and sisters, not walls and barricades.”
Ending his three-day visit to Budapest, the pope is scheduled to deliver a speech on culture and academics Sunday afternoon at the Péter Pázmány Catholic University. He then will have a farewell ceremony at 5:30 p.m. local time before departing on his return flight to Rome.
Pope Francis smiles during a meeting on April 29, 2023, with children and adults who are visually impaired and have other disabilities at a Catholic institute in Budapest, Hungary, dedicated to Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann. / Vatican Medi… […]
Pope Francis on Friday encouraged clergy and others discouraged by a shortage of priests and ebbing faith in the West to pray for God’s help, saying the solutions will “come from the tabernacle and not the computer.”
“I want to assure you that good pastoral ministry is possible if we are able to live as the Lord has commanded us, in the love that is the gift of his Spirit,” the pope said, speaking to an audience of approximately 1,000 Hungarian priests, seminarians, and pastoral workers gathered in St. Stephen’s Co-Cathedral in Budapest.
“If we grow distant from one another, or divided, if we become hardened in our ways of thinking and our different groups, then we will not bear fruit,” he warned. “It is sad when we become divided, because, instead of playing as a team, we start playing the game of the enemy: bishops not communicating with each other, the old versus the young, diocesan priests versus religious, priests versus laity, Latins versus Greeks.”
Such divisions lead to polarization along entrenched ideological lines, the Holy Father said. “No! Always remember that our first pastoral priority is to bear witness to communion, for God is communion and he is present wherever there is fraternal charity,” he said.
Speaking on Friday afternoon on the first day of his three-day visit to Hungary’s historic capital, Pope Francis acknowledged the many reasons for Christians to feel disheartened today, including the rise of secularism and a corresponding decline of faith in the West.
But the pope stressed that Christians “must always be on guard” not to yield to the temptation to become defeatists “who insist that all is lost, that we have lost the values of bygone days and have no idea where we are headed.”
There is another, equally dangerous temptation, he said: “a comfortable conformism that would have us think that everything is basically fine, the world has changed and we must simply adapt.”
To combat “bleak defeatism and a worldly conformism,” Pope Francis said, “the Gospel gives us new eyes to see” as well as discernment that enables us to “approach our own time with openness, but also with a prophetic spirit.” He added that we are called to “prophetic receptivity.”
“Prophetic receptivity is about learning how to recognize the signs of God in the world around us, including places and situations that, while not explicitly Christian, challenge us and call for a response,” the Holy Father said. “At the same time, it is about seeing all things in the light of the Gospel without yielding to worldliness, as heralds and witnesses of the Christian faith.”
Pope Francis said people can accomplish this by “bringing the Lord’s consolation to situations of pain and poverty in our world, being close to persecuted Christians, to migrants seeking hospitality, to people of other ethnic groups and to anyone in need.”
The Church must aspire to be “capable of mutual listening, dialogue, and care for the most vulnerable” and “welcoming to all and courageous in bringing the prophetic message of the Gospel to everyone,” the Holy Father said.
“Christ is our future, for he is the one who guides all history. Your confessors of the faith were firmly convinced of this: the many bishops, priests, religious women and men martyred during the communist persecution. They testify to the unwavering faith of Hungarians,” Pope Francis said.
“Our lives, for all their frailty, are held firmly in his hands. If ever we forget this, we, clergy and laity alike, will end up seeking human ways and means to defend ourselves from the world, either withdrawing into our comfortable and tranquil religious oases, or else running after the shifting winds of worldliness. In both cases, our Christianity will lose its vigor, and we will cease to be the salt of the earth.”
Pope Francis addresses civil authorities and other dignitaries at a former a Carmelite monastery in Budapest, Hungary, on April 28, 2023, on the first day of his three-day pilgrimage to the country. / Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis addresses civil authorities and other dignitaries at a former a Carmelite monastery in Budapest, Hungary, on April 28, 2023, on the first day of his three-day pilgrimage to the country. / Vatican Media
Rome Newsroom, Apr 27, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).
In a lengthy interview on the eve of Pope Francis’ trip to Hungary, Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, noted that the motto of Pope Francis’ trip to Hungary … […]