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Pope, in final Hungarian talks, emphasizes Christ’s love, warns against technocratic humanitarianism

May 02, 2023

As his apostolic journey to Hungary drew to a close, Pope Francis met with young people in a sports arena, celebrated Sunday Mass (concluding with a Regina Caeli address) in Kossuth Square, and addressed academic and cultural figures at Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

The Pontiff invited the young people to cultivate their relationship with Christ in the silence of prayer as they “aim high” by putting their talents to good use.

“There is always Someone at your side, Someone who is there for you, and that Someone is Jesus,” the Pope said. “He does not hesitate to help you overcome every obstacle on your path. Prayer helps you in this, because prayer is dialogue with Jesus, just as Mass is an encounter with him, and Confession is the embrace you receive from him.”

At Sunday Mass, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of the Good Shepherd’s love for each person and exhorted his hearers to “be increasingly open doors” to others. He concluded:

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus the Good Shepherd 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” (Jn 10:10). Let us never be discouraged. 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 final speech, addressed to Hungarian academic and cultural figures, Pope Francis reflected at length on Msgr. Romano Guardini’s Letters from Lake Como and Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World. Drawing on the former, the Pope said:

How many isolated individuals, albeit immersed in social media, are becoming less and less “social” themselves, and often resort, as if in a vicious circle, to the consolations of technology to fill their interior emptiness. Living at a frenzied pace, prey to a ruthless capitalism, they become painfully conscious of their vulnerability in a society where outward speed goes hand in hand with inward fragility. This is a grave problem today. I mention this not to engender pessimism—for that would be contrary to the faith I rejoice to profess—but rather to reflect on that hubris of pride and power denounced at the dawn of European culture by the poet Homer, which the technocratic paradigm exacerbates, and threatens, through a certain use of algorithms, to further destabilize our human ecology.

Turning to Benson’s dystopian novel, the Pope said:

That book, written more than a century ago, was to some degree prophetic in its description of a future dominated by technology, where everything is made bland and uniform in the name of progress, and a new “humanitarianism” is proclaimed, cancelling diversity, suppressing the distinctiveness of peoples and abolishing religion, abolishing all differences. Opposed ideologies merge and an ideological colonization prevails—which is a huge problem—as humanity, in a world run by machines, is gradually diminished and social bonds are weakened. In the technically advanced yet grim world described by Benson, with its increasingly listless and passive populace, it appears obvious that the sick should be ignored, euthanasia practiced and languages and cultures abolished, in order to achieve a universal peace that is nothing else than an oppression based on the imposition of a consensus.

Against that backdrop, the Pope spoke of the

uniquely important role played by scholarship and culture in the life of society. A university is, as its very name indicates, a place where thought emerges and develops in a way both open and symphonic, and never monotonous. It is a “temple” where knowledge is set free from the constraints of “accumulating and possessing” and can thus become culture, that is, the “cultivation” of our humanity and its foundational relationships: with the transcendent, with society, with history and with creation.

The Pope concluded with a call to Socratic self-knowledge and a reminder that Christ’s truth sets us free.

“Hungary has seen a succession of ideologies that imposed themselves as truth, yet failed to bestow freedom,” the Pope said. Today too, the risk remains. I think of the shift from communism to consumerism.”

He added:

Communism offered a “freedom” that was restricted, limited from without, determined by someone else. Consumerism promises a hedonistic, conformist, libertine “freedom” that enslaves people to consumption and to material objects. How easy it is to pass from limits imposed on thinking, as in communism, to the belief that there are no limits, as in consumerism! To pass from a blinkered freedom to an unbridled freedom.

Instead, Jesus offers a way forward; he tells us that truth frees us from our fixations and our narrowness. The key to accessing this truth is a form of knowledge that is never detached from love, a knowledge that is relational, humble and open, concrete and communal, courageous and constructive. That is what universities are called to cultivate and faith is called to nurture. And so I take this occasion to express my hope that this University, and indeed every university, will always be a beacon of universality and freedom, a fruitful workshop of humanism, a laboratory of hope.


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  • Posted by: ewaughok - May. 02, 2023 11:59 PM ET USA

    A lot of rhetoric from Bergoglio that sidesteps the central issues of his own style of communication. He refuses to dialogue with those that differ with him demanding that they blindly and blandly fall in line or else be ostracized in someway. They may even be removed from ecclesiastical office, or demoted from religious leader ship, or Simpli call me nasty names. These are all things that Bergoglio routinely resorts too as part of the way he communicates with the faithful. All is mere rhetoric…