Pope Francis: Populism Is ‘Not the Answer’ to Europe’s Immigration Crisis

In this Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, Pope Francis poses for selfies with migrants at a regional migrant center, in Bologna, Italy. In a message issued by the Vatican Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, Francis is decrying those whipping up fear of migrants for political gain, and is urging people to …
AP/Luca Bruno

Populism will not resolve Europe’s immigration crisis, Pope Francis asserts in a new interview, insisting that Europe is the cause of many of Africa’s problems and has a responsibility to welcome and assist those who come looking for a better life.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters made available to Breitbart in Italian, the pope was asked what he thought the solution is to the immigration crisis that seems to be causing Europe to crumble.

“Populism is not the solution,” Francis said emphatically, adding that Europe would disappear without migrants because no one is having children.

“Let’s look at history,” he said. “Europe was made by immigrants. Let’s look at the current situation. In Europe there is a great demographic winter. It will become empty.”

The pope praised Italy and Greece as well as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan for their “courage and generosity” in welcoming migrants, suggesting that this is the correct response.

“The current story is that there are people who come asking for help. I believe that you should not reject the people who arrive,” he said. “You have to welcome, assist, take care of, and accompany them, and then see where to put them, but throughout all Europe.”

People owe a special debt of reparation to Africa, the pontiff said, since so many have exploited it for its resources.

“People are running away from war or hunger,” Francis said. “Let’s go back to hunger. In Africa, why is there hunger? Because in our collective unconscious there is a motto that says that Africa must be exploited. So many times people go to Africa to exploit it.”

The pope referred back to a conversation about Africa he had with German prime minister Angela Merkel, with whom he agreed.

“I have talked about this with Merkel and she agrees that we must invest in Africa, but investing in an orderly way and providing sources of employment, not exploiting it,” he said, before going on to refer to Europe’s colonizing past.

“When a country gives independence to an African country, but only from the ground up – while what is under the soil is still dependent – and then complains that hungry Africans come here, that is injustice!” he said.

“Europe has to undertake a program of education and investment in Africa to avoid the root causes of immigration,” he said. “Some governments have good ideas, and you have to settle them as best you can, but creating a psychosis is not a medicine.”

“And there’s another problem. We ‘return to sender’ the people who are arriving and these people wind up in the prisons of traffickers,” he said.

Summing up, the pope said that “populism does not solve the problem; what solves it is welcoming, studying, settling, and prudence, because prudence is a virtue of government and the government must reach an agreement. I can receive a certain number and settle them.”

“There is slave trafficking here, and governments must understand it,” he said, “but it is not easy: welcoming, educating, integrating them as far as possible, and you cannot look for a single solution. The first solution is to invest on the spot when there is no war.”

When specifically asked what he thinks of the Trump administration’s current immigration policies, the pope demurred, saying he stands behind the U.S. bishops who know more about the situation than he does.

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