Pope Francis on Tuesday condemned nationalist leaders who blame migrants for their countries’ problems and themselves fostered mistrust in society by pursuing dishonest gain and xenophobic and racist policies.
The 82-year-old pope, who has made defence of migrants a plank of his papacy, made the comments in his message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace on January 1. It is sent to heads of state and government and international organisations.
It comes at a time when immigration is one of the most contentious issues in countries such as the United States, Italy, Germany and Hungary. Francis has sparred with US President Donald Trump and Italian right-wing league leader Matteo Salvini over the rights of migrants.
“Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable,” said the pope, who did not mention any countries or leaders.
He said today’s times were “marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security.”
Francis said it was sad that mistrust was “also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalised world has such great need.”
Last week, the pope praised the United Nation’s first Global Compact on Migration, which sets objectives for how the management of migration can be improved. A number of nations, including the United States, Italy, Hungary, and Poland did not attend the meeting in Morocco.
Francis denounced a list of “vices” by politicians who he said undermined authentic democracy and brought disgrace to public life through various forms of corruption.
Among these he included misappropriation of public resources, dishonest gain, xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the environment, and plundering of natural resources.
He proposed eight “Beatitudes of the Politician” – first formulated by the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan – as a guide for the behaviour of public office holders.
These, he said, would set goals for politicians who, among other qualities, should have a deep understanding of their role, personally exemplify credibility, work for the common good and accomplish radical change.