Pope Francis hopes next US president’s actions do not increase poverty & exclusion

Pedestrians make their way into the the United States from Mexico at the pedestrian border in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. © Mike Blake
Refusing to make any judgements on personalities, Pope Francis told the Italian daily La Repubblica his only concern is the negative impact the next US President’s actions might have on the poor and marginalized people in the country and abroad.

The interview with Pope Francis was published on Friday but conducted on November 7, the day before the presidential election in the US, during which Republican nominee Donald Trump, against the public’s expectations, secured the necessary electoral votes to become the 45th president of the United States.

When asked by Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of La Repubblica, about his opinion of Trump, the Pope answered:

“I don’t make judgments on people and on politicians, I only want to understand what the sufferings are that their way of proceeding causes to the poor and excluded.”

Francis and Trump exchanged their views back in February, when the Pope, commenting on the future president-elect’s anti-immigration campaign, during which he called to erect a wall along the Mexico-US border, refused to call the Republican a Christian.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel,” the Pope said in February after visiting Mexico.

A week before that, in an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump criticized the Pope’s understanding of US immigration.

“I think the Pope is a very political person. I think he doesn’t understand the problems our country has,” Trump said. 

In this latest interview, which focused on economic and social problems, the pontiff mentioned that his most pressing concern was the “question of refugees and immigrants,” who feel frightened in a system driven by job insecurity.

“Money is against the poor as well as against immigrants and refugees,” the Pope said, “but there are also poor people in rich countries who fear the arrival of their fellows from poor countries.”

To solve the problem, Francis said one needs to “break down the walls that divide us.” He said that inequality is “the greatest evil that exists in the world."

It is “money that creates [inequality] and that goes against those measures that try to make wealth more widespread and thus promote equality,” the pontiff said.

When asked by the interviewer if he considered his statements Marxist, Francis replied that he is aware of such accusations to which, in the past “my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians.”

In the intro to the interview in La Repubblica, Scalfari wrote: “I have often written that Francis is a revolutionary, but this was beyond revolution.”

As the interview came out, Pope Francis stood gently in a Vatican auditorium and asked the homeless to pardon all the Christians who turn a blind eye on their problems.

“I ask pardon,” the pope said, on behalf of Christians who, “faced with a poor person or a situation of poverty, look the other way.”

Some 4,000 homeless people from 22 countries witnessed the Pope’s words in the Vatican as the Catholic Church winds down the conclusion of special services that mark the Holy Year of Mercy.