Pope Francis compared President Donald Trump to Herod, the wicked king in the Bible who tried to kill the newborn Jesus and who was responsible for the massacre of male infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem, as revealed in a Jesuit journal on Thursday.
The pontiff made the remark to a group of Jesuits from Southeast Asia during his visit to Thailand and Japan.
Pope Francis’ characterization of the American president was based on the refugee issue. The Catholic leader has been a major advocate of refugees throughout his ministry and has made outreach to the Muslim community.
“The phenomenon of refugees has always existed, but today it is better known because of social differences, hunger, political tensions and especially war,” the pope said. “For these reasons, migratory movements are intensifying. What is the answer the world gives? The policy of waste. Refugees are waste material. The Mediterranean has been turned into a cemetery. The notorious cruelty of some detention centers in Libya touches my heart.”
He went on to express concern with growing “populism” and “narratives” about borders that are gaining traction in the western world, seemingly alluding to President Trump in condemning “walls that even separate children from parents.”
I must admit that I am shocked by some of the narratives I hear in Europe about borders. Populism is gaining strength. In other parts there are walls that even separate children from parents. Herod comes to mind. Yet for drugs, there’s no wall to keep them out.
As I told you, the phenomenon of migration is compounded by war, hunger and a “defensive mindset,” which makes us in a state of fear believe that you can defend yourself only by strengthening borders.
Pope Francis claimed a “Christian tradition has a rich evangelical experience in dealing with the problem of refugees” and said Christians must “remember the importance of welcoming the foreigner as the Old Testament teaches us.”
He encouraged those in attendance to keep praying, stating that “Only in prayer will we find the strength and inspiration to engage fruitfully with the messy consequences of social injustice.”
During his time as pope, the Argentine religious leader born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has repeatedly condemned populism and nationalism.
“I see that many people of good will, not only Catholics, are a bit gripped by fear, which is the usual message of populism,” he told reporters earlier this year. “They sow fear and then make decisions. Fear is the beginning of dictatorships. Let’s go back to the last century, to the fall of the Weimar Republic. I repeat this a lot. Germany needed a way out and, with promises and fears, Hitler came forward.”
In the same remark, Pope Francis added that “builders of walls, whether they are of razor-wire or brick, will become prisoners of the walls they build. That’s history.”
During the 2016 presidential election, the Catholic leader declared: “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. That is not the gospel.”
Then-candidate Trump responded: “For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.”
Pope Francis has called for solidary between Catholics and Muslims. In March, he told Catholics in Morocco that their mission was not to convert their Muslim neighbors, but to live in brotherhood with them.
The pope is known for his critical attitude toward capitalism. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he said of the free market:
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
He has also become a vocal advocate of tackling climate change. Speaking to participants of a United Nations convention, Pope Francis scolded nations for their “weak” response to the alleged climate crisis, which he labeled “one of the main challenges for humanity.”
Pope Francis addressed the UN Assembly in 2015 shortly before member states unanimously adopted Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, which he called “a great step forward for global dialogue, marking a vitally new and universal solidarity.”
As TNA has previously reported, UN’s Agenda 2030 is a scheme for global socialism that, under the pretext of preventing climate change and creating “sustainable development,” would establish a powerful world government with control over virtually every aspect of society.
Photo of Pope Francis: AP Images