Pope, calling migrants’ exclusion ‘criminal’, on collision with Meloni
Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of Catholics, has strongly defended migrants, calling it ‘scandalous and sinful’ to close doors in their faces.
The Pope used the words as he canonized a 19th-century bishop known as the ‘father of migrants’ and a 20th-century man who ministered to the sick in Argentina.
The Pope, who has made support for migrants a priority, presided over a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square today attended by 50,000 people.
In his speech, the Pope said, “The exclusion of migrants is scandalous. It is disgusting and sinful. It is a crime not to open the door to those in need. It causes them to die in front of our eyes.”
Referring to the thousands of people who drowned trying to reach Europe, the Pope added: “The Mediterranean has become today the largest cemetery in the world.”
Pope Francis, who did not mention Italy, said that some migrants who are sent back to their countries are put in “concentration camps where they are abused and treated like slaves”. He noted that this had happened in the past in Libya.
In Italy, Giorgia Meloni is expected to become prime minister later this month at the head of a right-wing coalition pledging to reduce migration and tighten the country’s borders.
Meloni has promised to speed up the repatriation of migrants and tighten asylum rules.
He has also called for a naval blockade of North Africa to prevent migrants from setting sail, in addition to calling for the reintroduction of restrictions on the activities of rescue ships owned by charities.