The Pontiff slams anti immigration policies during address in Bari
Pope Francis slammed populist politicians trying to reduce mass immigration, comparing them and their policies to Nazi rhetoric, saying they are only serving to stoke hatred and fuel fear.
During an address in the southern Italian city of Bari, the Pontiff attempted to connect dots between war, international immigration, and climate change.
Francis highlighted the plight of “all who are fleeing war or who have left their homelands in search of a humanly dignified life,” as he urged European nations to keep their borders open.
“The number of these brothers and sisters – forced to abandon their loved ones and their lands, and to face conditions of extreme insecurity – has risen as a result of spreading conflicts and increasingly dramatic environmental and climatic conditions,” he said.
“While countries experiencing this flow of migrants and countries to which they travel are affected by this, so too are the governments and Churches of the migrants’ countries of origin, which, with the departure of so many young people, witness the impoverishment of their own future,” the Pope added.
The Pope also had harsh words for politicians, such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini, who have fought against mass migration by comparing it to an “invasion.”
“Fear is leading to a sense that we need to defend ourselves against what is depicted in demagogic terms as an invasion,” Francis said.
“The rhetoric of the clash of civilizations merely serves to justify violence and to nurture hatred.”
Francis said it was “unthinkable” to use “walls” to combat the immigration problem.
“I grow fearful when I hear certain speeches by some leaders of the new forms of populism; it reminds me of speeches that disseminated fear and hatred back in the thirties of the last century,” he said.
“The message of intermingling has much to tell us,” he said.
“To be part of the Mediterranean region is a source extraordinary potential: may we not allow a spirit of nationalism to spread the opposite view, namely, that those states less accessible and geographically more isolated should be privileged.”
“As I said, it is unthinkable that this process of acceptance and dignified integration can be accomplished by building walls,” he continued.
“When we do so, we cut ourselves off from the richness brought by others, which always represents an opportunity for growth.”
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Last year, Francis also likened populists to Hitler during his Islamic North African state of Morocco.
The Pontiff condemned the rise of populism saying the movement used fear in the same way as the Nazis did in the 1930s.
“I see that many people of goodwill, not only Catholics, are a bit gripped by fear, which is the usual message of populism,” the pope told reporters.
During ‘International Migrants’ Day, the Pope compared Jesus Christ’s cold welcome in Bethlehem to that of modern-day migrants.
“Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed,” the pope said.
“May our hearts not be closed as were the houses in Bethlehem.”