It may not be all that hard to image how Pope Francis feels about President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy given his recent remarks on nationalism, which is how the media interpreted “sovereignty.”
But then, at least the Holy Father would be consistent with Trump’s many critics on the left.
In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa published on Friday, Pope Francis called for a united Europe while denouncing political rhetoric that echoes what was heard in Nazi Germany.
“Sovereignty is an attitude of isolation,” the Pope said, according to the translation of his comments. “I am worried because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934. First we. We … we … : these are scary thoughts.”
The observation comes as Italy’s populist government appears to be on the verge of collapse, according to the Washington Post.
“On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the most powerful politician in Italy, called for parliament to be dissolved and asked President Sergio Mattarella to order snap elections that could make Italy’s government lean even further right,” the newspaper reported.
Salvini is Italy’s interior minister and has called for putting Italy first, “launching a crackdown on immigration,” according to the Post, which reported that his “rhetoric that has drawn comparisons to that of President Trump.”
Pope Francis has been critical of Trump’s efforts to secure a border wall.
When asked earlier this year about the president’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico, he said: “Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build.”
In addition to banning migrant rescue ships from Africa from docking in Italy, Salvini has shut down a Sicily migrant center.
He was also just in the news for telling liberal actor Richard Gere, who was assisting a rescue ship offshore, to board a group of migrants on his “private plane” and fly them home to Hollywood.
“Given that this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas. Thank you Richard!” the Italian official said in a statement.
There have been reports that attempts to secure a papal audience by Salvini, who is a practicing Catholic, have been rebuffed due to the Italian official’s hard-line stance on immigration.
The Holy See, who called for migrants to be integrated into society, had more to say on the sovereignty that Salvini endorses in Friday’s interview.
“Sovereignty is closure,” Francis told La Stampa. “A country must be sovereign, but not closed. Sovereignty must be defended, but relations with other countries and with the European Community must also be protected and promoted. Sovereignism is an exaggeration that always ends badly: it leads to wars .”
Commenting on the migrants flowing into Europe, the pope said Africa “is the victim of a cruel curse.”
“First of all, never forget the most important right of all: the right to life,” he said.
“The immigrants arrive mainly to escape from war or hunger, from the Middle East and from Africa,” he continued. “On the war, we must engage and fight for peace. Hunger mainly concerns Africa. The African continent is the victim of a cruel curse: in the collective imagination it seems to be exploited. Instead, part of the solution is to invest there to help solve their problems and stop migratory flows. “
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