May 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In a wide-ranging television interview, Pope Francis compared President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall to the Berlin Wall that divided communist East Germany from freedom in the West.
Among a series of questions posed by correspondent Valentina Alazraki of the Mexican Televisa network, the Pope touched on a range of issues, including President Trump, migration and border security, violence against women, clerical sex abuse, and drug trafficking.
Alazraki reminded Pope Francis of the Mass he celebrated in 2015 at the border between the U.S. and Mexico, adding that little had changed since then as witnessed by “heartbreaking images of children separated from their families.” In response, the Pope said that he does not understand “this new culture of defending territory by building a wall.”
He went on to say, “We knew of one, of Berlin, and the many headaches and suffering it caused us….But it appears that man does what animals don’t, right? Man is the only animal that falls twice into the same hole, right? We are returning to the same thing, right? Building walls as if it were a defense, right? Defense is dialogue, growth, acceptance and education, integration, and the healthy but human limit of ‘no more than this.’”
The interview took place earlier in May, and the transcript was released by the Vatican on May 28.
Not limiting himself to the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the pontiff also addressed the ongoing rush of immigrants illegally entering Spain’s possessions in North Africa. In Ceuta and Melilla, thousands of mostly male migrants have braved razor wire barriers in order to seek admission as refugees.
Pope Francis denounced the separation of children from their parents, saying that it is the “greatest cruelty” that defies “natural law.”
“And to separate children from parents goes against natural law, and those Christians … they just can’t be. It is cruel. It is the greatest cruelty,” the pontiff said. “To defend what? Territory, or the economy of the country or who knows what, right? But they are schemes of thought that turn to the political task, and make a policy of that type, right? It’s very sad, is it not?”
When the Pope was asked what he would say to President Trump if he had been present, he said that it would be “the same, the same because I’ve said this in public. I also said in public that he who builds walls winds up a prisoner of the walls he builds. Instead, the one who builds bridges makes friends, gives a hand, even though he stays on the other side … But there is dialogue, right? And you can defend the territory perfectly with a bridge … not necessarily with a wall. I speak of political bridges or cultural bridges, right? We're not going to bridge all the borders, right? It is impossible.”
Correspondent Alazraki referred to the “humanitarian emergency” on the southern border of Mexico where shelters and Catholic charitable organizations are overwhelmed. She noted that refugees are coming not only from Central America, but also Cuba and Africa, while expressing the fear that xenophobia will emerge among Mexicans and thus create a “war between the poor.” In response, the Pope said that in the political sphere, “something isn’t working.”
At the bottom of it, he said, is “environmental abuse and economic abuse.” As for the latter, he said, “There are increasingly fewer wealthy people, no! Fewer wealthy with a majority of the world's wealth. And there are increasingly more poor people with less than the minimum to live…In other words, all the wealth is concentrated among quite small groups in relation to others … And the poor are more.”
Because there are more poor people, the Pope said, they are seeking new opportunities.
“I think that is the origin, right? Economic pressure, right? It is no longer economic, it is financial … We have left the world of economics, we are in the world of finance, where finance is bubbly.”
In the financial world, he said, concrete gains are minimal while the rest is “fantasy, like a bubble, right?” Such an “orthodox” economy does not work, he said. It is in the financial world, he said, where “social injustice” occurs. However, the “social market economy,” as envisioned by St. John Paul II, he said, “talks, functions, but the market economy is gone.”
Pope Francis said that migration is a “priority throughout the world,” and is thus a focus of his attention but not at the cost of preaching against abortion and other issues.
“Migration has reached a point today that I have taken into my own hands the office for refugees of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development,” he said, noting that “every day, the Mediterranean is becoming more like a cemetery,” in reference to mostly African refugees who cross from North Africa in flimsy boats in the hope of reaching land in Europe or being picked up by European naval forces. However, despite his interest in the migration issue, the Pope claimed that he continues to insist on the Church’s pro-life teachings.
Many of the Trump administration’s immigration policies are difficult to distinguish from President Obama’s.