Pope Francis Calls on Europe to Remember Its Christian Roots

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AP Photo/Kevin Frayer

ROME — Pope Francis urged Europe to remember its Christian roots Wednesday, a recommendation inspired by his recent visit to Hungary and Slovakia.

This journey “was a pilgrimage to the roots,” the pope told the crowds gathered in the Vatican for his weekly General Audience. “In meeting my brother bishops, both in Budapest and in Bratislava, I was able to experience directly the grateful remembrance of these roots of faith and of Christian life.”

The Christian roots of these lands “reach as far back as the ninth century, back to the evangelizing work of the saints brothers Cyril and Methodius, who accompanied this journey with their constant presence,” Francis noted.

These roots “are always living, full of the vital lymph that is the Holy Spirit, and that as such they must be conserved,” he continued, “not like museum exhibits, not ideologized and exploited out of interests of prestige and power, to consolidate a closed identity.”

The pontiff went on to insist that present-day Christians must draw strength and example for evangelizers who went before them, imitating their missionary spirit.

“Cyril and Methodius are not, for us, people to commemorate, but rather models to imitate, masters from whom we can always learn the spirit and method of evangelization,” he said.

“Understood and lived in this way, the roots are a guarantee of the future: from them, thriving branches of hope can grow,” he added.

“We do not say, ‘Go, and hide from your roots,’ no, no. ‘Go to your roots, take your lymph from them and go forward. Go and take your place,’” he said.

Faithfuls wearing protective face masks attend at the Ash Wednesday mass lead by Pope Francis during which opens Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter, on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Faithful wearing protective face masks attend at the Ash Wednesday mass lead by Pope Francis during which opens Lent, the 40-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. ( ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty)

“Everything that blooms on the tree comes from what it has underground,” he asserted, citing an adage. “You can grow to the extent that you are united with your roots: your strength comes from there.”

“If you cut the roots, so that everything is new, new ideologies, this will lead you nowhere, it will not let you grow: you will end up badly,” he concluded.

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