Pope Francis Blasts Trump: 'Walls & Fear-Mongering' Won't Stop Mass Migration
Pontiff continues his 'remove borders' narrative on visit to Morocco
Pope Francis hailed Morocco as a model of religious moderation and 'migrant welcome' as he began his trip to the country on Saturday, taking a subtle jab at Donald Trump by arguing 'border walls and fear-mongering' won't stop migration.
King Mohamed VI welcomed the pontiff as he began his visit aimed at promoting Christian-Muslim ties and showing solidarity with Morocco's increasing migrant community.
Morocco became the central destination for sub-Saharan African migrants seeking to reach Europe through Spain, last year.
The massive influx but strain on resources and fueled anti-migrant sentiment in Spain.
Francis met with Morroco's migrants assuring him them:
"You are not marginalized. You are at the center of the church's heart."
Francis them told the king he hoped Morocco would continue to be a model of humanity, welcome and migrant protection.
"The issue of migration will never be resolved by raising barriers, fomenting fear of others or denying assistance to those who legitimately aspire to a better life for themselves and their families," Francis said.
In January, the Pope blamed the shortcomings of globalization for the rapid rise of nationalism.
Francis did not highlight any specific countries of political parties but reflected on national policies favoring "quick partisan consensus" over patient efforts for the common good.
He called for legal channels for migration and protections for the most vulnerable increased, regardless of them being legal or illegal:
"This shared commitment is needed to avoid presenting new opportunities to those merchants of the human flesh who exploit the dreams and needs of migrants," he told the gathering at the Catholic-run Caritas charity.
According to The Washington Examiner: Many sub-Saharan Africans in Morocco head north to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain or climb over high fences to reach Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Those who make it across the 6-meter (20-foot) fences end up in crowded migrant centers from which they are eventually repatriated or let go.
Francis has made the plight of refugees a hallmark of his papacy and has used many of his foreign visits to insist on the need to embrace them, protect them and integrate them into society.
Spain became the leading migrant entry route into Europe last year with over 57,000 illegal arrivals after Italy closed its borders to migrants leaving Libya.
Nearly 2,300 people died crossing the Mediterranean Sea last year, and over 310 have already died this year on the dangerous journey, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The EU agreed on this summer to give Morocco $275 million to halt flows of illegal migrants, pushing the country to take a more violent approach in stopping them from leaving for Europe, activists say.
Francis began his remarks to the king by praising Morocco's tradition of interfaith coexistence and its efforts to promote a moderate form of Islam.
Morocco, a Sunni Muslim kingdom of 36 million, reformed its religious policies and education to limit the spread of fundamentalism in 2004, following terrorist bombings in Casablanca in 2003 that killed 43 people.
Key to that purpose has been the Mohammed VI Institute, a school of learning for imams that teaches a moderate Islam and exports it via preachers to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
Francis honored the school:
"seeks to provide effective and sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which in any event, constitute an offense against religion."
The king said education was the key to fighting radicalism — not military crackdowns.
"What all terrorists have in common is not religion, but rather an ignorance of religion," he said.
Last year, Francis urged world leaders to "forget about national security" concerns and put the needs of immigrant's first.
The head of the Catholic Church called political leaders to drop their country's current screening and deportation policies and give precedence to migrant's wants over the safety of their legal citizens.
The pope has also necessitated an end to detention centers for those who cross the border illegally, and for refugees to be instead given long-term homes to show "solidity" and "equality."