The Reuters reported, Pope Francis warned against too much focus on individual rights and culture wars at the expense of the common good on Monday during a visit to Slovakia amid increased nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment across eastern Europe.
According to Reuters, on the first papal visit to Slovakia since 2003, Francis returned to a theme he had touched on during a stopover on Sunday in Hungary on how nations should avoid a selfish, defensive mentality, as he recalled the region’s communist past.
Francis said: “In these lands, until just a few decades ago, a single thought system (communism) stifled freedom. Today another single thought system is emptying freedom of meaning, reducing progress to profit and rights only to individual needs.”
Addressing Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, other officials and diplomats in the gardens of the presidential palace, the pope added: “Fraternity is necessary for the increasingly pressing process of (European) integration.”
Reuters noted that Slovakia, part of Czechoslovakia during communist times, secured its independence from Prague in 1993.
It added, the Slovak and wider eastern European economies have since boomed but their integration into the European Union has also coincided with a nationalist backlash against increased illegal immigration, often involving Muslims from the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Slovakia is about 65% Catholic.
At a meeting with bishops, priests and nuns, Francis said Catholics also must not be inward-looking, self-absorbed and defensive, in an apparent reference to his conservative critics who are resisting change.
He said: “The Church is not a fortress, a stronghold, a lofty castle, self-sufficient and looking out upon the world below.”