Pope Francis - Photo: MTI

Pope Francis warns of risks of ‘shifting from communism to consumerism’

Pope Francis, in his address at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University, warned of the risks of "shifting from communism to consumerism" in a closing event of his three-day visit to Budapest.

Meeting representatives of academic and cultural life at the university’ Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics on Sunday afternoon, the pontiff emphasised the importance of self-knowledge, the recognition of one’s limitations and curbing the presumption of self-sufficiency.

He said the first of two thoughts he wanted to leave with his audience was “Know thyself”, citing the famous maxim from the temple of Delphi. Knowing yourself, the pope said meant that “we must be able to recognise our limitations and, consequently, to curb the presumption of self-sufficiency”. He said that “once we realise that we are creatures, we become creative”, adding that “we learn to immerse ourselves in the world instead of attempting to dominate it”.

The second thought Pope Francis said he wanted to leave with those present concerned truth. He cited Jesus who said that “the truth will make you free”. He said that “Hungary had seen a succession of ideologies that imposed themselves as truth, yet failed to bestow freedom”. “Today too, the risk remains. I think of the shift from communism to consumerism. Common to both those ‘isms’ is a false notion of freedom. Communism offered a ‘freedom’ that was restricted, limited from without, determined by someone else. Consumerism promises a hedonistic, conformist, libertine ‘freedom’ that enslaves people to consumption and to material objects”, the pope said.

He said it was easy “to pass from limits imposed on thinking, as in communism, to the belief that there are no limits, as in consumerism! To pass from a blinkered freedom to an unbridled freedom”.

Closing his address, Pope Francis expressed hope that every university “will always be a beacon of universality and freedom, a fruitful workshop of humanism, a laboratory of hope”.

“I bless you from the heart, and I thank you for all that you are doing. Koszonom szepen! (Thank you very much!),” said the pontiff.

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