Pope: consumerism is today's persecution

During the general audience, Francis talked about his trip to Hungary. He urged the faithful in the Marian month of May to follow Our Lady’s call to the shepherds of Fatima to pray the rosary every day for peace in the world and for an end to war. Participants in the first meeting between Christians and Hindus living in Europe promoted by the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue were also present in St Peter's Square.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his address to the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis spoke about his apostolic visit to Hungary, stressing that consumerism is the most dangerous persecution for Christians today.

“I have seen so many humble and hard-working people proudly cherish the bond with their roots,” he explained. “And among these roots,” there are “so many saints of the past who today exhort us to overcome the risk of defeatism and the fear of tomorrow, remembering that Christ is our future.”

Those roots, the pontiff noted, were put to the test by communist persecution. “Christians were struck down violently, with bishops, priests, religious, and lay people killed or deprived of their freedom. And while attempts were made to cut down the tree of faith, the roots remained intact: there remained a hidden Church, but alive, strong, with the power of the Gospel.

Communist persecution was preceded by Nazi persecution “with the tragic deportation of a large Jewish population.” Speaking of which, Francis mentioned the story of poet Edith Bruck, who lives in Rome and turns 92 today.

“But even today, as emerged in meetings with young people and the world of culture, freedom is under threat. How? Above all with kid gloves, by a consumerism that anaesthetises, 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 worldliness, brought about by consumerism.”

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

Along with the commitment to preserve one’s roots, the trip to Hungary showed the importance of building bridges between different peoples.

“This is, in particular, the vocation of Europe, which is called, as a ‘bridge of peace’, to include differences and to welcome those who knock on its doors. In this sense, the humanitarian bridge created for so many refugees from neighbouring Ukraine, whom I was able to meet while also admiring the great network of charity of the Hungarian Church, is beautiful.”

The pope also mentioned the bridges the Church “is called upon to stretch towards the people of today, because the proclamation of Christ cannot consist only in repeating the past, but always needs to be updated, so as to help the women and men of our time to rediscover Jesus.” This includes building bridges between believers of different rites and confessions who “work well together in Hungary..

In greeting pilgrims, Francis mentioned that according to Church tradition, May is dedicated to Marian devotion.

"I remember Our Lady of Fatima's request to the three shepherd children: 'Pray the rosary every day for peace in the world and the end of war'. I also ask you: pray the rosary for peace.”

"I urge you to study Mary more deeply, enter into intimacy with her, welcome her as a spiritual mother and model of fidelity to Christ. To her, Mother of consolation and Queen of Peace, I entrust the martyred Ukrainian population."

Finally, it should be noted that special participants were present at today's audience, starting with Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (Patriarch Kirill of Moscow’s “foreign minister”), who met in the Vatican with Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the dicastery for Eastern Churches.

Also present were the 55 participants in the first meeting in Rome of “Hindus and Christians in Europe: building together a new humanism based on fraternity”, organised by the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue with the Hindu Forum of Europe, the Unione induista italiana (Italian Hindu Union) and the World Council of Churches.

Participants reflected on how to boost cooperation between Christians and Hindus in Europe on issues that foster human prosperity through interfaith dialogue, solidarity, and hospitality.