Pope Francis on Immigration
One of his most pointed messages concerned Pres. Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy, in which US authorities hold illegal immigrant adults in jail while their children are sent to government shelters.
US Catholic bishops have joined other religious leaders in the US in condemning the policy. "I am on the side of the bishops' conference," the pope said, referring to two statements from US bishops this month. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect the bishops conference."
"It's not easy, but populism is not the solution," Francis said. The pope said populists were "creating psychosis" on the issue of immigration.
He spoke at length about immigration, a controversial issue in Europe as well as the US. The populist Italian government has refused port access to non-government ships that have been rescuing asylum-seekers trying to cross to Italy from Africa in flimsy boats.
"I believe that you cannot reject people who arrive. You have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout all of Europe," Francis said.
"Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he added. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."
Speaking in St. Peter's Square in Rome, Pope Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the world, brought his attention to the migrant crisis occurring throughout the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The pope compared the plight of more than 22 million refugees worldwide to that of Joseph and Mary, who traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem but found no lodging, a timeless parable of unwelcome travelers.
President Trump has tried to keep˙refugees out of the U.S., signing a number of restrictions on those seeking asylum from war-torn countries like Yemen,˙Syria and Iraq. Trump often argues that allowing refugees from these countries into the U.S. could increase the risk of terrorism, but he has also accepted far fewer Christian refugees than in prior years.
In February 2016, shortly after celebrating a Mass in Mexico just yards from the border, Pope Francis was asked by reporters about then-candidate Trump's promise to build a wall the entire length of the border. "A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever it may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian," the pope said.
Trump, asked by reporters to comment on that, said Mexico was "using the pope as a pawn," and he said it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question someone's faith.
The pope's approach, he said, is "to meet the major players in the field in order to reason together and to propose to everyone the greatest good, exercising the soft power that seems to me to be the specific trait of his international policy."
The rare back-and-forth between pontiff and presidential candidate underscored the popular pope's willingness to needle U.S. politicians on hot-button issues. Francis' comments came hours after he concluded a visit to Mexico, where he prayed at the border for people who died trying to reach the U.S. He was asked what he thought of Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall along the entire length of the border. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," he said. While Francis said he would "give the benefit of the doubt" because he had not heard Trump's border plans independently, he added, "I say only that this man is not a Christian if he has said things like that.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)