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  • Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter

    Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 June 2018

"It's not easy, but populism is not the solution," Francis said on Sunday night.

Pope Francis has criticized the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border, saying populism is not the answer to the world's immigration problems.

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Speaking to Reuters, the Pope said he supported recent statements by the United States based Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents "contrary to our Catholic values" and "immoral."

"It's not easy, but populism is not the solution," Francis said on Sunday night.

One of his most pointed messages concerned President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy, in which U.S. authorities plan to criminally prosecute all immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, holding adults in jail while their children are sent to government shelters.

The policy has caused an outcry in the United States and has been condemned abroad as videos emerged of youngsters held in concrete-floored enclosures and audio of wailing children went viral.

U.S. Catholic bishops have joined other religious leaders in the United States in condemning the policy.

"I am on the side of the bishops' conference," the pope said, referring to two statements from U.S. bishops this month.

"Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops conference."

Francis' comments add to the pressure on Trump over immigration policy. The pope heads a church which has 1.3 billion members worldwide and is the largest Christian denomination in the United States.

The president has staunchly defended his administration's actions and cast blame for the family separations on Democrats.

"Democrats are the problem," Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday. "They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants."

The U.S. crackdown chimes with a new political mood sweeping western Europe over the large numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers, most of them escaping conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

The pope said populists were "creating psychosis" on the issue of immigration, even as aging societies like Europe faced "a great demographic winter" and needed more immigrants.

Without immigration, he added, Europe "will become empty."

RELATED:

US Protests Against Border Separations, How We Got Here

Protests were held outside of Capitol Hill Tuesday against President Donald Trump’s arbitrary policy to separate children from their parents as they try to enter at the country’s southern border. Nationwide demonstrations are set for June 30.

According to the Families Belong Together website, approximately 100 cities across the nation are planning to demonstrate against the president’s policy that has forcefully separated 2,000 families at the border between April 19 through May 31.

Social media is alit with the hashtag, #keepfamiliestogether discussing the administration’s uptick of separating families and holding children in cages allowing little to no communication between parents and their kids. Recently released information of children crying for their parents has incited celebrities, politicians and average people from around the world to call the president’s practice as “cruel,” “atrocious,” “inhumane,” “immoral,” “shameful” and “heartbreaking.”


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