Pope said in Slovakia, don’t use religion for politics

Pope Francis visits Slovakia
Pope Francis on a visit to Slovakia
Pope Francis arrives to lead the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in Preोवov, Slovakia on September 14, 2021. Reuters/Radovan Stoklasa

September 14, 2021

by Philip Pullela

PRESOV, Slovakia (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the cross should not be used as a political symbol and warned against Christians trying to emerge victorious, in an apparent criticism of the use of religion for partisan purposes. Gave.

Francis flew to the city of Preोवov in eastern Slovakia, where he presided over a long service known as the Divine Liturgy, a Byzantine rite used by the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

The pope, waving his house around the theme of Christian identity, said that the cross and crucifix were often used superficially by Christians.

Speaking to about 30,000 worshipers, he said that many Christians had crosses or crosses around their necks, on the walls in their homes, in their cars and in their pockets, but they had no real connection with Jesus.

“What good is it, until we stop looking at Jesus crucified and open our hearts to Him,” he said. “Let us not reduce the cross to an object of devotion, much less to a political symbol, to a sign of religious and social status.”

In Preोवov in 1950, communist authorities forced Eastern Rite Catholics, who owe their allegiance to the Pope, to join the Orthodox Church. Many Eastern Rite clerics who refused were imprisoned.

appeal to religion

In Hungary, where the Pope briefly stayed on Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán appealed to religious sentiments in his immigrant and nationalist politics, saying Hungary’s Christian heritage was in danger of disappearing.

After his meeting with the pope on Sunday, Orbán said he asked the pontiff “not to allow Christian Hungary to be destroyed”. The pope said in Hungary that the country could preserve its Christian roots by opening up to the needy.

At Tuesday’s trial, Francis also appeared to warn Christians against using their religion in so-called culture wars that they believe hurt the common good.

“How often do we crave the Christian religion of the conquerors, a victorious Christianity that is important and influential,

Who receives glory and honor?” he said.

In Slovakia, the far-right Kotlebowski-People’s Party of Our Slovakia says it stands on three pillars – Christian, national and social – and has vowed to stop immigration of mostly Muslim refugees.

“The cross is not a flag to wave, but a pure source of a new way of living,” said Francis, adding that a true believer “sees no one as an enemy, but everyone as a brother or sister.” sees”.

Many political parties in Europe, including many far-right parties in the past, use crosses on their party’s flags or symbols.

In Hungary, the smaller Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), one of Orbán’s government allies, uses a cross on its emblem. The far-right nationalist Our Homeland Party (Mi Hazank) uses the Byzantine cross, which has two horizontal beams.

(Additional reporting by Robert Müller in Kosice and Gergeli Szaczak in Budapest; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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