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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."

Go deeper

The 9 types of voters in American politics

While the partisan divide in the U.S. keeps intensifying, new polling from the Pew Research Center also reveals how several distinct subsets of political views are emerging across the two major parties.

Why it matters: This polling highlights just why it will be so difficult for many candidates in next year's midterms to keep support from the most partisan and involved candidates within their party while also winning over the more moderate and undecided.

Nov 13, 2021 - World

Pope Francis thanks journalists for exposing Church sexual abuse scandals

Photo: Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis thanked journalists on Saturday for exposing sexual abuse scandals that the Roman Catholic Church tried to cover up, Reuters reports.

What he's saying: "[I] thank you for what you tell us about what is wrong in the Church, for helping us not to sweep it under the carpet, and for the voice you have given to the abuse victims," Francis said at a ceremony honoring two reporters who cover the Vatican, per Reuters.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.