Pope Francis has sharply criticised politicians “stirring up primal fears” by demonising immigrants and migrants.
He told 180 Ambassadors to the Vatican, in his annual State of the World address, that the time had come to “abandon the familiar rhetoric” and, instead, help the record numbers of people fleeing violence.
He said a person’s ability to leave their country and then to return to it is a “fundamental human right.”
“In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the history of salvation is essentially a history of migration.”
He said the Vatican “has no intention of interfering in decisions that fall to States” but wanted to “appeal to the principles of humanity and fraternity at the basis of every cohesive and harmonious society.”
Pope Francis praised Italy, Greece and Germany for their efforts to welcome migrants. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that at least 2,832 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe in make-shift boats in 2017.
In the past week eight people died and 84 people were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard after their boat sank off the coast of Libya.
Pope Francis said the arrival of new people should “spur Europe to recover its cultural and religious heritage, so that … it can keep alive her own tradition while continuing to be a place of welcome, a herald of peace and of development.”
He also called for a new global debate on nuclear disarmament, warned of a “demographic winter” in the West due because of declining birth rates, and asked diplomats to respect the contested city of Jerusalem, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent declaration he would recognise it as the capital of Israel.
I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem… pic.twitter.com/YwgWmT0O8m
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2017
“Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognised borders,” he said of Jerusalem and the unresolved status of the Palestinians.
He made reference to the forthcoming 70th anniversary later this year of the December 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He compared it to the message of the Gospels and said they had much in common.
Pope Francis also said the interpretation of many of those human rights had “progressively changed” since the 1960s, “with the inclusion of a number of ‘new rights’ that not infrequently conflict with one another.”
He criticised what he called “the rise of modern forms of ideological colonisation by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable.”
Francis praised as “historic” a new U.N. treaty, signed by 122 countries, that calls for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Francis has changed the Catholic Church’s official teaching on nuclear weapons in the past year, departing from acceptance of nuclear deterrence.
He said the Vatican has signed and ratified the new disarmament treaty, based on the belief expressed in Pope John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris that “justice, right reason, and the recognition of man’s dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race.”
Pope allows breastfeeding in Vatican’s Sistine Chapel
Pope Francis has told nursing new mothers they should feel free to breast feed their babies in the Sistine Chapel.
On Sunday Pope Francis baptised 34 infants, 18 girls and 16 boys including two pairs of twins, during in a ceremony that lasted more than two hours at the Vatican. He told women taking part in the service not to be afraid of breastfeeding their children in the chapel, describing the act as “the language of love”.
He said: “If they start performing a concert (by crying), or if they are uncomfortable or too warm or don’t feel at ease or are hungry, breastfeed them.
“Don’t be afraid, feed them, because this too is the language of love.”
The papal baptism is a yearly event restricted to children of employees of the Vatican or the diocese of Rome, of which the Pope is Bishop.