Vatican to Trump: Pope is No Tool of Mexican Immigration


The Vatican has responded to Donald Trump’s criticism of Pope Francis’s stance on immigration, denying that the Pope is a pawn of Mexico’s immigration policy and underscoring that Francis’ concern for migrants is global and not a matter of U.S. politics.

“Trump’s remarks are very strange,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi Tuesday. “The Pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of welcoming those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace.”

“The Pope says this to everyone,” he said.

In his press briefing, Lombardi also insisted that the Pope uses the same sort of language when speaking with European politicians, adding that “Trump would know if he came to Europe.”

The Vatican spokesman added that the Pope is fully aware that he doesn’t have all the answers to the problems afflicting Mexico, including the immigration issue.

Lombardi’s remarks followed on a publicized interview with Donald Trump late last week, when the presidential hopeful criticized the Pope’s plan to visit the U.S.-Mexican border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas.

On Fox Business Network Thursday morning, Stu Varney asked Donald Trump for his reaction to the Pope’s plan “to stand at the border” with migrants.

“I think that the Pope is a very political person,” Trump responded, before adding that he thinks the Pope is being used by Mexico to advance its interests against the United States.

“I think he doesn’t understand the problems our country has,” he continued. “I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico. And I think Mexico got him to do it because Mexico wants to keep the border just the way it is because they’re making a fortune and we’re losing.”

During his stay in Ciudad Juarez Wednesday, the Pope will visit the Cereso prison, meet with some 3,600 business leaders and workers, eat lunch with Catholic seminarians, and celebrate a Mass attended by both Mexicans and Americans.

The Mass is scheduled to take place at El Punto, a large field near Benito Juarez Stadium and just a short distance from the U.S. border. Organizers say that tickets have been distributed to Catholic parishes on both sides of the border for those who want to attend the Mass. The venue holds approximately 220,000 people.

Father Manuel Dorantes, who works for the Vatican press office, tweeted that the papal Mass in Ciudad Juarez will be offered for migrants and victims of violence in Mexico, and that 30,000 places have been reserved for victims of violence as well as migrants and their families.

It is expected that Pope Francis will speak on the immigration question later Wednesday, calling attention to the difficulties faced by migrants without getting into the nitty gritty of immigration policy.

“During Mass, Pope Francis will undoubtedly call attention to many realities that are lived on both sides of our U.S.-Mexico border, particularly the plight of so many migrants and refugees fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, in search of better lives for themselves and their children,” said El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz in a statement.

“Pope Francis is expected to approach the U.S./Mexico divide as a symbol of the same journey taken by migrants. It will also provide him an opportunity to acknowledge the faithful on the El Paso side of the border,” he said.

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