Pope Francis this week criticized the use of the Christian cross for political purposes, saying during a recent trip to Slovakia that it reduces the cross, according to The New York Times.
The newspaper notes that the pope’s remarks were made just a few days after he traveled to Hungary, a country that has multiple prominent political parties that feature crosses on their flags.
"The cross is not a flag to wave, but the pure source of a new way of living," the pope said, noting that a Christian "views no one as an enemy, but everyone as a brother or sister."
He also said that "in the eyes of the world, the cross represents failure, the latest proof that the course of events in our world does not change: The good are cast aside, and the wicked prevail and prosper."
The pope asked, "How often do we long for a Christianity of winners, a triumphalist Christianity that is important and influential, that receives glory and honor? Yet a Christianity without a cross is a worldly Christianity and shows itself to be sterile."
He went on to say, "Crucifixes are found all around us: on necks, in homes, in cars, in pockets. What good is this, unless we stop to look at the crucified Jesus and open our hearts to him … and we weep before the God wounded for love of us?
"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," the pope said. "If we fix our gaze on Jesus, his face comes to be reflected on our own: His features become ours, the love of Christ wins us over and transforms us."
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