Pope praises Slovak bishop who hid his ministry working as a tram driver
During the General Audience, Pope Francis looked back on the key moments from his visit to Hungary and Slovakia.
"Mine was a pilgrimage of prayer in the heart of Europe, beginning with adoration and ending with popular piety."
His visit began with Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress, which focused on adoration. It concluded at the Marian Shrine of Saštin. The Pope listed two key elements for a fruitful pilgrimage: praying and being among the people.
Pope Francis said that the martyrs, Christians and people of other religions who gave a witness of faith during the brutal years of Soviet persecution, were especially remembered throughout his trip. He said it is important to not forget them.
"One of the Slovak bishops, already elderly, when he greeted me, said, ' I worked as a tram conductor to hide from the communists.' He is a good man. During the dictatorship, during persecution, this bishop was a tram conductor. Then, clandestinely, he would carry out his work as a bishop and no one knew. That's what persecution is like."
Pope Francis said experiences like that cannot and should not be forgotten. He explained that memory is an essential part of prayer.
"There is no prayer without memory. What does this mean? That when we pray, we must remember our own life, the life of our people, the life of the many people who accompany us."
Speaking about memory, he asked the European Union to return to the idea promoted by its founding fathers in the past.
"During this journey to the heart of Europe, I thought a lot about the fathers of the European Union, of how they dreamed of it: not as an agency to spread fashionable forms of ideological colonization. No. The way they envisioned it."
A group of Afghani refugees attended the Audience. There was also a higher attendance of many other groups, including newlyweds. It was likely thanks to the loosening of pandemic restrictions and an increasing number of vaccinated people.