Pope Francis has criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border, saying populism is not the answer to the world’s immigration problems.
Speaking to Reuters, the Pope said he supported recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents “contrary to our Catholic values” and “immoral.”
“It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” Francis said on June 17 Sunday night.
In a rare, wide-ranging interview, the Pope said he was optimistic about talks that may lead to a historic agreement over the appointment of bishops in China, and said he may accept more bishops’ resignations over a sexual abuse scandal in Chile.
Reflecting at his Vatican residence on his five years as Pope, he defended his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church against criticism by conservatives inside and outside the Church who say his interpretation of its teachings is too liberal.
He also said he wanted to appoint more women to top positions in the Vatican administration.
One of his most pointed messages concerned President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, in which U.S. authorities plan to criminally prosecute all immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, holding adults in jail while their children are sent to government shelters.
U.S. Catholic bishops have joined other religious leaders in the United States in condemning the policy. “I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” the Pope said, referring to two statements from U.S. bishops this month. “Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops conference.” Francis’ comments add to the pressure on Trump over immigration policy. The Pope heads a church which has 1.3 billion members worldwide and is the largest Christian denomination in the United States.
All dictatorships begin the same way: media outlets are put in the hands of “unscrupulous” people who spread lies and weaken democracy, Pope Francis said. Typical standards, norms and laws in regard to communications are first eliminated, the Pope said in his homily on June 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. Then an entire media or communication outlet is handed over “to a firm, a business that slanders, tells lies, weakens democracy, and then the judges come to judge these weakened institutions, these destroyed, condemned people and a dictatorship makes progress this way,” he said. “All dictatorships, all of them, began like this, by adulterating communication, by putting communications in the hands of people without scruples, of governments without scruples,” he added. The Pope’s homily focused on the day’s first reading in which Jezebel succeeds in her a plot to help her husband, King Ahab, take possession of their neighbour’s land; the neighbour, Naboth, refused to sell what had belonged to his family for generations. Jezebel arranged for two men to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king, for which Naboth was stoned to death.