Pope Francis spoke about the Christian roots of Hungary during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 3, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 3, 2023 / 02:21 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that freedom is under threat in Europe as people choose consumerism and individualism over building families and community.

Even today, “freedom is under threat,” he said May 3. “Above all with kid gloves, by a consumerism that anesthetizes, where one is content with a little material well-being and, forgetting the past, one ‘floats’ in a present made to the measure of the individual.”

“This is the dangerous persecution of modernity that advances consumerism,” he underlined.

“But when the only thing that counts is thinking about oneself and doing what one likes, the roots suffocate,” he warned. “This is a problem throughout Europe, where dedicating oneself to others, community feeling, the beauty of dreaming together and creating large families are in crisis. All of Europe is in crisis.”

Pope Francis spoke about Europe, its roots, and the problem of consumerism during his weekly audience with the public.

Speaking about his visit to Budapest, Hungary, April 28-30, he asked those present at the audience to think about “the importance of preserving roots, because only by going deep will the branches grow upwards and bear fruit.”

He began his reflection on the three-day trip to Hungary’s capital city by recalling the European country’s Christian roots and the ways those were tested in the 20th century.

“Their faith, as we have heard from the Word of God, has been tested by fire,” he said, noting the atheist persecution in the 1900s, when “Christians were struck down violently, with bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople killed or deprived of their freedom.”

“But while attempts were made to cut down the tree of faith, the roots remained intact,” he said, pointing out the steadfastness of the “hidden Church” in Hungary.

“In Hungary, this latest persecution, the communist oppression was preceded by the Nazi oppression, with the tragic deportation of a large Jewish population,” the pope added.

“But in that atrocious genocide, many distinguished themselves by their resistance and their ability to protect the victims; and this was possible because the roots of living together were firm,” he said. “Thus the common bonds of faith and people helped the return of freedom.”

Quoting St. John Paul II, Pope Francis also spoke about Hungary’s “many saints and heroes, surrounded by hosts of humble and hardworking people.”

He noted, in particular, the devotion of Hungary’s St. Stephen to the Virgin Mary.

“I want to recall, at the beginning of the month of May, how very devoted the Hungarians are to the Holy Mother of God,” he said.

“Consecrated to her by the first king, St. Stephen, they used to address her without pronouncing her name, out of respect, calling her only by the titles of Queen,” Pope Francis said. “To the Queen of Hungary, therefore, we entrust that dear country; to the Queen of Peace, we entrust the building of bridges in the world; to the Queen of Heaven, whom we acclaim at this Easter time, we entrust our hearts that they may be rooted in the love of God.”