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Pope Francis Decries Politicians Who ‘Blame Every Evil on Migrants’

Pope
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Pope Francis released his message for the World Day of Peace Tuesday, in which he denounced “political vices” such as nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and lack of concern for the environment.

In his message titled “Good politics is at the service of peace,” the pope sketched his vision of good and bad politics, insisting that good politicians are credible, consistent, and fearless.

In the lead-up to elections for the European Parliament, Francis said that every “election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law.”

“One thing is certain,” he said, “good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”

The pope didn’t remain at the level of abstract principles, however, but waded into specific issues at the heart of current political debates.

“Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions,” he said. “Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it.”

Political vices, he said, “undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony.”

Among these vices are corruption, exploitation, and dishonest gain, but also “xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile,” he said.

Our times are “marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security,” the pope lamented, which is expressed at the political level in “attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need.”

“Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants” are unacceptable, he said, since they manifest a “strategy of fear” and stoke an “escalation of intimidation.”

Pope Francis has made the immigration issue a pillar of his pontificate, urging nations to be as welcoming as possible toward migrants of all sorts and insisting that a failure to welcome migrants is rooted in selfishness and fueled by “populist rhetoric.”

He has also been a vocal supporter of the U.N.’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) approved in Marrakesh last week.

The GCM provides “a framework for the whole international community,” the pope told pilgrims and tourists gathered in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday, asking for prayers that this accord will lead all nations to work with “responsibility, solidarity, and compassion toward those who, for various reasons, have left their country.”

Earlier this month, the Vatican’s department for Migration and Refugees issued a statement praising the GCM, saying that the Holy See “will join many other governments of the world to celebrate the adoption of this pact, the first international agreement on migration at the global level.”

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