Pope Francis Holds up Sweden as Model of Successful Immigration

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OLA TORKELSSON/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Pope Francis said Sweden is a model of good immigration policy and is “full of Latin Americans.”

The issue of immigration is “a priority in the world today,” the pope said in an extensive interview released Tuesday by Vatican News, and in his mind Sweden is an example of immigration done right.

“I always put forward the example of Sweden, which I know very well,” Francis said, since they took in many Latin Americans and Argentinians in the 1970s and later.

“Sweden is full of Latin Americans,” he said. “They received them all; they had the organization and in two days they had paid the school so many euros per day, they gave them a temporary house, and after they learned the language they gave them a job and they were integrating them. And that’s what Sweden has been doing up to this day.”

“Now they have more difficulty because of the numbers,” he said, but “the system is wonderful.”

The pope said he was very impressed when he visited Lund in 2016 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

“The minister of culture was there at my farewell,” he said. “A very active, young girl. The Swedes are all blond and light-eyed, right? And this girl was a little ‘brown-ish,’ a little ‘brunetta’ as the Italians say, dark-skinned. And naturally she was the daughter of a Swede and an African migrant. Now, see how a migrant is treated in Sweden, his daughter is the minister of the country! It’s fantastic!”

“I always use this as an example. It’s probably the country that has developed this best,” he said.

“There is also a very serious problem with those who are repatriated,” Francis said. “I do not know if you have seen the clandestine footage of when they catch them again: they sell the women and the children and they enslave and torture the men.”

“The footage is tremendous,” he said. “If you haven’t seen it I have it and I can show you.”

“So I say, careful with the repatriation, too, without security,” he said. “In order to repatriate a dialogue is necessary with the country of origin and not simply to put up a wall or lock the doors of the house.”

So why is the pope talking so much about migrants? he asked. “Because it’s a hot, current problem.”

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