There are infinite ways to tell the same story. It all depends on what you choose to highlight. Pope Francis' recent trip to Hungary is a case in point. Much of the news coverage of the visit focussed on what he had to say about finding a way to stop the war in Ukraine and about opening doors to immigrants and leaving no one behind.
But that's not all he said.
In just three days, he addressed academics and scientists, children and young people, diplomats and refugees, priests and bishops, politicians and pastoral workers – to name a few. He described the dangers of pursuing “technology without truth.” He reiterated the risks of shifting from “communism to consumerism” without due consideration. He begged young people to get off their smartphones and social media and to remember that “life is real.”
He also expressed his vision of a Europe that is neither polarized, populist nor bland – and that never “loses sight of the life of its peoples.”
"This is the baneful path taken by those forms of 'ideological colonization' that would cancel differences, as in the case of the so-called gender theory, or that would place before the reality of life reductive concepts of freedom, for example by vaunting as progress a senseless 'right to abortion,' which is always a tragic defeat," the pope said.
But Pope Francis reserved his most passionate appeals for young people. He told them not to be “lazy couch potatoes,” to “aim high” and put their talents to good use – because Jesus wants them to “accomplish great things.”
"Do you feel in your heart that you have the possibility of helping others?" he asked. "Do you sense how good it is to love the Lord, to have a large family, to help those in need? Then carry on, don’t think that these are unattainable desires. Rather, invest in the great goals of life! Family, honesty, generosity, prayer."
These were some of the many topics the pope touched on in a conversation clearly directed, not just to the youth of Hungary, but to young people everywhere in the world. And at the heart of his message was the reminder they are not alone: Someone is always at their side.
"And that Someone is Jesus," he said. "He does not hesitate to help you overcome every obstacle on your path. Prayer helps you in this, because prayer is dialogue with Jesus, just as Mass is an encounter with him, and confession is the embrace you receive from him."
It would take more than these few minutes to fill in all the blanks of what else the pope had to say in Hungary – considering he even said some of it in Hungarian: a language, he remarked jokingly to journalists on the return flight to Rome, that is only spoken in Heaven. Because it's so difficult, “it takes an eternity to learn it!”