ROME — Pope Francis has sent a message to Italians considering voting for anti-immigration parties, with a homily warning against “raising walls against our brothers and sisters, which imprison us in solitude.”
Francis traveled to southern Italy on Sunday, as Italians went to the polls for a general election, and delivered a message that hit on key campaign issues including immigration.
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, and her ally Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, who are expected to be part of a winning right-wing coalition, have vowed to resume a strict crackdown on migrants arriving in Italy by boat. Meloni has called for a “naval blockade,” while Salvini proposes to revive harsh security laws against immigrants he brought in as interior minister in 2018-2019.
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The pope did not refer to the election explicitly during the open-air Mass, but he said that migrants “enrich society” and can help them grow at social, economic, cultural and spiritual level, and “must be welcomed and integrated.”
Noting that Sunday is the Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Francis called for a future in which migrants and victims of human trafficking can live “in peace and dignity.”
“Migrants must be welcomed, helped, promoted and integrated,” he said.
In the past, Francis has clashed with former U.S. President Donald Trump on immigration, criticising the “new culture of defending territories by building walls,” which has “brought so many headaches and so much suffering.”