In his homily on Tuesday, Francis spoke at length about Christian identity, lamenting that the cross and crucifix had too often become mere adornments, diluting their true meaning.
What is the value, he asked, of hanging a crucifix from a rearview mirror or one’s neck if a person has no meaningful relationship with Jesus? “What good is this,” he said, “unless we stop to look at the crucified Jesus and open our hearts to him?”
In recent years, some politicians in Europe have used religious symbols as part of campaign messages centered on identity politics.
In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the populist League party, often campaigned with rosary beads in hand. At one rally with far-right leaders from France, Germany and the Netherlands, he also invoked the protection of the Virgin Mary over Italy.
Some conservative cardinals in the Vatican — many of whom are highly critical of Francis — spoke glowingly of Mr. Salvini and have also expressed sympathy toward Mr. Orban.