The religious leader is opposed to the growing political consensus on immigration. On Friday, in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Pope Francis blasted the notions of “sovereignty” and “populism”, not hesitating to evoke the darkest hours of the Old Continent.
His words were deemed “distressing” by Marine Le Pen, although the Pope did not specifically target a particular politician.
Pope Francis expressed the wish that after the European elections “a process to relaunch” Europe will begin and that it will move forward “without interruptions”. He said sovereignism was an “attitude of isolation” which he likened to the era of Hitler.
“I am concerned because you can hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934”, the pope also told the paper.
Sovereignism is “an exaggeration that always ends in a bad way – it brings wars” he added.
“A country must be sovereign, but not closed. Sovereignty must be defended, but relations with other countries, with the European Community, must also be defended,” said the head of the Catholic Church.
Asked about “populism”, he also answered that it was part of “the same speech” since “populism leads us to sovereignism: this suffix in ‘ism’ is never good,” continued the pontiff.
“The Pope’s distressing declaration: ‘Populisms lead us to sovereignism: this suffix ‘ism’ is never good’. What about Catholicism and Christianity in his eyes?!” Marine Le Pen remarked on Twitter.
Déclaration affligeante du Pape : "Les populismes nous mènent aux souverainismes : ce suffixe en +isme+ ne fait jamais du bien".
Quid du catholicisme et du christianisme à ses yeux ?! MLPhttps://t.co/nILa9iCBTL
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) August 9, 2019
Another conservative politician Florian Philippot also dismissed the pontiff’s remarks: “This Pope never loses an opportunity to talk nonsense. Dreadful. Sovereignty is the other name for freedom and democracy,” added the former National Front MEP.
Ce Pape ne perd jamais une occasion de dire des bêtises…Navrant.
La souveraineté c’est l’autre nom de la liberté et de la démocratie. https://t.co/YACbvbQlJx
— Florian Philippot (@f_philippot) August 9, 2019
“The pontiff pontificates over ‘sovereignism’ and ‘populism’ that preoccupy him: For me, a poor fisherman, it is criminal Islamism and the Christians of the East who preoccupy me!” said Gilbert Collard, a National Rally politician.
Le souverain pontife pontifie sur le "souverainisme" et le "populisme" qui le préoccupent : moi, pauvre pêcheur, c'est l'#islamisme criminel et les #chrétiens d'Orient qui me préoccupent ! https://t.co/5K2A1wX8eU
— Gilbert Collard (@GilbertCollard) August 9, 2019
In the interview, the pontiff spoke not only about the dangers of nationalism and populism, but the integration of migrants, the environmental emergency and the next Amazon synod.