Vatican Denounces Worldwide ‘Wave of Xenophobia’

Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at the Moria refugee camp (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano decried a new global wave of “xenophobia, racism, and intolerance” Monday in its ongoing push for greater openness to migrants.

Citing United Nations general secretary António Guterres, the Vatican paper said that human rights are “losing ground all over the world.”

Guterres has sounded the alarm over a shrinking civic space, L’Osservatore Romano noted, underscoring that in the last three years more than 1000 journalists and human rights activists have been killed.

“Hatred has shifted to the mainstream, in democracies and authoritarian systems,” Guterres said, before asking member states to finance the building of “a new global strategy to fight incitement to hatred.”

Xenophobia and racism are a “growing plague that has poisoned the debate over crucial challenges such as immigration,” Guterres said, adding that certain political parties and leaders are “cutting and pasting ideas from the fringes of society for their own electoral propaganda.”

The U.N. leader’s words follow on reports that populist and nationalist movements are poised to register significant gains in European elections this spring.

The Vatican newspaper’s full-bore support for the United Nations approach to immigration has been a hallmark of the paper’s coverage since 2013, the year Francis became pope.

In December, L’Osservatore Romano announced that over 160 nations had adopted the U.N. “Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration” (GCM), cheering the accord as a major milestone in international immigration regulation.

“An important example of multilateralism, the GCM is the first international agreement on migration at the global level,” L’Osservatore Romano noted in its article.

The piece went on to lament the refusal of several key nations to participate, including the United States, Israel, Italy, and others.

The Vatican has been an outspoken advocate of the GCM, urging nations to be more welcoming toward migrants and refugees.

One week earlier, the Vatican’s department for Migration and Refugees issued a statement praising the migration agreement, saying that it stressed “greater cooperation and responsibility sharing.”

“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,” the text states.

The statement further noted that Pope Francis’s approach to migration, summed up in the four verbs “to accept, protect, promote and integrate,” was developed into 20 action points by the Holy See’s Migrants and Refugees Section.

“Today we are happy to note that many of the principles and measures listed in the 20 Points have been included in the final text of the Pacts, and in particular in 15 of the 23 Goals of the GCM,” the statement declared.

This past January, Pope Francis said he thinks that fear of migrants is “making us crazy,” when asked by journalists what he thought of the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.

“These are walls of fear,” continued the pope, the ruler of the only completely walled-in country in the world and the smallest independent state by both area and population.

On that same occasion, the pontiff went on to recommend an editorial in L’Osservatore Romano, which contrasted the idea of “brotherhood” with that of “fear.”

Pope Francis has been a vocal proponent of immigration, repeatedly suggesting that resistance to mass migration can only be motivated by xenophobia, racism, and populism and that nations should adopt a more welcoming stance toward them.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.