Pope Francis Slams Italy’s Populist Leader for Closing Borders
Pontiff fires subtle assault on Italy’s populist leader Matteo Salvini
Pope Francis issued thinly veiled assault on Italy’s interior minister and populist leader Matteo Salvini, likening him to the villainous Bible character Cain who murdered his brother Abel.
The Pontiff was addressing participants in a meeting of aid agencies to the Oriental Catholic Churches (ROACO) when he seemingly accused the populist minister of closing his ports migrants while keeping them open for arms dealers.
“We hear the plea of persons in flight, crowded on boats in search of hope, not knowing which ports will welcome them, in a Europe that does open its ports to ships that will load sophisticated and costly weapons capable of producing forms of destruction that do not spare even children,” the pope said.
Last year, Italy turned away migrant ships filled with the 141 people rescued by the humanitarian Aquarius vessel of the coast of Libya.
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The migrants were picked up by the Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF) in different operations, but is now is stranged in international waters between Italy and Malta.
Since Salvini is the only political leader who used this method to curb illegal migration, it seems the Popes' words were indeed aimed at him.
“Here we can recognize the cry of Abel rising up to God,” the pope said, referring to the second son of Adam and Eve, who was killed by his elder brother Cain.
The Pontiff has a habit of citing Cain’s defensive question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” when arguing the case for welcoming migrants.
Although the Pope hasn't directly criticized Mr. Salvini, he has found other channels to allow his views to be known.
For example, during a press conference aboard the papal plane, the ope urged journalists to read The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, if they wanted to know his views on Italian politics.
“I read it, and it would be good for you to read it, because it offers some very interesting keys to understanding things and things that I say are also there,” he said, calling it the “paper of the party.”
L’Osservatore Romano had published a harsh reaction to the European elections denouncing Salvini’s pro-sovereignty and anti-globalist movement.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief said the votes that went to Salvini was “reactive” and motivated by “fear,” an opinion also alluded to by Francis in his press conference.
The Pope said politicians “sow hatred and fear."
Meanwhile, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro decried the election results in a full-page article in the Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana.
“There is a toad, a moral sickness, in the belly of our country, which is also infecting our Church,” Spadaro wailed.
In March, Salvini vowed to "save Europe" from globalism as he reveals his government's plans to push back against the European Union.
Speaking during a press conference this week at Lega’s historic headquarters at Via Bellerio 41 in Milan, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Salvinidecalred that the EU must change its laws and regulations to give "a sense of self-respect and dignity" back to individual countries.