Sep 14, 2021 - World

Pope criticizes use of the cross as a political symbol

Pope Francis speaks under a banner of flowers

Pope Francis gives a speech in Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

Pope Francis warned against using the cross as a symbol for partisan means on Tuesday during his trip to Slovakia, saying it shouldn't be reduced to a political or status symbol, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Pope Francis has a habit of speaking more critically about a country after he has left it, the Times notes. The remarks, said in Slovakia, come days after his visit to Hungary, where several political parties have crosses on their party flags.

  • Hungary's strongman President Viktor Orban has also pushed Christianity as a basis for his policies, which are hallmarked by nationalism and fierce opposition to immigration.

Other political parties in Europe — including far-right ones — also employ crosses in their flags and symbols as well.

What he's saying: "The cross is not a flag to wave, but the pure source of a new way of living," the pope said, per Reuters, adding that a Christian, "views no one as an enemy, but everyone as a brother or sister."

  • The pope added that many avowed Christians wear crosses or have them in their home, despite not having a strong relationship with Jesus.
  • "What good is this, unless we stop to look at the crucified Jesus 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."
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