Days Before U.S. Election, Pope Francis Warns Against Politics of Fear

Source: America Magazine

By Michael O’Loughlin

In a speech delivered at the Vatican just three days before the U.S. presidential election, Pope Francis urged social justice activists from around the world not to give into the politics of fear by building walls but instead work to build bridges.

“Because fear—as well as being a good deal for the merchants of arms and death—weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others,” he said.

“In the end,” he continued, “it makes us cruel.”

The pope did not mention the Nov. 8 U.S. election, but many of the themes he touched on have played out in debates between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton in recent months.

For example, the pope reiterated his plea for nations to respond more generously to the global refugee crisis, which he blamed on “an unjust socio-economic system and wars.”

He pointed specifically to the hundreds of thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean Sea seeking entry into Europe in recent years and, he said, “no one should be forced to flee their homeland.”

The United States accepted about 10,000 Syrian refugees this year fleeing a brutal civil war but not without controversy.

Several Democratic and Republican governors said last year that the refugees would not be welcome in their states.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has said that if he is elected he will ban all Muslims and migrants from countries experiencing terrorism from entering the United States.

A newly named U.S. cardinal, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, clashed with Mr. Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, over the issue last year. Mr. Pence had asked the archbishop not to resettle a Syrian family in Indiana, a request the archbishop refused.

The Obama administration announced last month that the United States would seek to welcome 110,000 refugees in 2017. A vice president at Catholic Relief Services told The Washington Post that the group welcomed the news, but that it did not go far enough in addressing the needs of “the 65 million globally displaced people around the world right now.”

The pope echoed that refrain, describing the refugee crisis “a problem of the world” and urging political leaders to do more.

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