Pope Francis warned Europe is in a serious crisis amid losing its Christian roots due to its demographic winter.
While reflecting on his recent visit to Budapest, the pontiff praised Hungary’s ability to continue nurturing its Christian roots while the rest of Europe lost touch with its faith.
“I went as a pilgrim” to the Hungarian people and … saw “so many humble and hard-working people proudly cherish the bond with their roots,” the Pope said.
And among these roots, “there are first and foremost the saints” who today “exhort us to overcome the risk of defeatism and the fear of tomorrow, remembering that Christ is our future.”
Francis also noted that “the Hungarian people’s solid Christian roots have been tested. Their faith was tested by fire.”
“Indeed, during the atheist persecution of the 20th century, Christians were struck down violently, with bishops, priests, religious, and lay people killed or deprived of their freedom,” he added in reference to the Soviet occupation of Hungary.
“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.”
In Hungary, “this last persecution, this communist oppression was preceded by the Nazi oppression, with the tragic deportation of a large Jewish population,” he said.
“But in that atrocious genocide, many distinguished themselves by their resistance and their ability to protect the victims.”
The Pope warned that freedom in Europe is threatened by “a consumerism that anesthetizes.”
“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,” he asserted.
“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. The whole of Europe is in crisis,” he stated.
“So let us reflect on the importance of preserving the roots because only by going deep will the branches grow upwards and bear fruit,” he said.
Francis echoed similar concerns to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI., who founded the alarm in 2009 of Europe losing its Christian roots.
Benedict said Europe was exposing itself to the risk of seeing its “original dynamism stifled by individualism and utilitarianism” by forgetting its Christian roots.
He added Europe must not forget those values that are “the fruit of a long and silent history in which, all will agree, Christianity has played a key role,”
“When the Church asks for the Christian roots of Europe to be recognized, it is not doing so to claim a privileged status for itself,” Benedict added. “Its aim is to keep the historical memory alive.”
He continued saying the Church wants to “reaffirm that Europe’s values are mainly rooted in its Christian heritage which even today does not cease to nurture them.”