Asked what he thinks of Donald Trump, Pope Francis said that he refrains from passing judgment on politicians but wants to “understand the suffering that their approach causes the poor and excluded.”
In an exclusive interview this week with the leftwing Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, Pope Francis stated that his greatest concern is the treatment of refugees and immigrants.
“I do not pass judgment on people and politicians. I simply want to understand the suffering that their approach causes the poor and excluded,” he said when asked point blank for his opinion on the new President-elect.
Pushed further regarding his specific worries, the Pope replied, “The question of refugees and immigrants. Only a small proportion of them are Christians, but this does not change the situation as far as we are concerned, or their suffering and distress.”
The Pope recognized that much of the pushback against massive immigration comes from the lower and middle classes, who are afraid of too many jobs going to immigrants and the effects on the national economy.
“Unfortunately,” he said, often, welcoming immigration policies “are opposed by populations that are afraid of losing jobs and of lower wages. Money is against the poor as well as against immigrants and refugees, but there are also poor people in rich countries who fear the arrival of their fellows from poor countries.”
“It is a vicious circle and it must be broken,” Francis continued. “We must break down the walls that divide us: we must try to increase prosperity and make it more widespread, but to achieve this we need to break down walls and build bridges that allow us to reduce inequality and increase freedom and rights.”
“More rights and greater freedom,” he said.
Writing in the Italian daily La Repubblica, Scalfari took advantage of his interview with the Pope to launch his own diatribe against Donald Trump, calling his election a “disaster” for Europe.
“Trump’s victory is catastrophic for us Europeans and Italians,” he wrote. “Trump is the white angel, fighting the establishment of the United States, against all the immigrants and their families.”
Scalfari said that Trump’s triumph “reinforces all the movements in Europe that are opposed to the elites and governing classes in their countries,” naming the Five Star Movement, Le Pen in France, Italy’s Northern League and the “parties behind Brexit.”
“Trump has no charisma and no political competence,” Scalfari said. “The leadership gave him the voters, whereas Obama was the one to win over the Americans and the whole Western world. The difference is total.”
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