Pope Francis warns: isolationism and populism lead to war

  • (Updated )

Source: Vatican Media

In an interview with Domenico Agasso for the Italian daily La Stampa-Vatican Insider, Pope Francis says that Europe needs to respect identities of peoples without closing itself in. He touches upon several issues such as politics, migrants, the Synod on the Amazonia, the environment and the evangelizing mission of the Church.

Europe must be saved because it is a heritage that "cannot and must not be dissolved," the Pope says. Dialogue and listening, "starting from one's own identity" and from human and Christian values, are the antidote against "sovereignism" and populism, and are also the engine for "a process of relaunching" that never ends.

The Pope said he hopes that Europe will continue to be the dream of its founding fathers. It is a vision that became a reality by implementing the historical, cultural and geographical unity that characterizes the continent.

Despite Europe's "problems of administration and internal disagreements", the Pope said he is optimistic about the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. He is happy about her appointment "because a woman can be the right person to revive the strength of the founding fathers." "Women", he said, "know how to bring people together and unite."

According to the Pope, the main challenge for Europe in relaunching itself comes from dialogue. "In the European Union we must talk to each other, confront each other, know each other," said the Pope, explaining how the "mental mechanism" behind every reasoning must be "first Europe, then each of us."

To do this, he said: "we also need to listen," while very often we only see "compromise monologues." The starting and relaunching point, he explained, are the human values of the person. It is a fact of history that Europe has both human and Christian roots. "And when I say this," the Pope said, "I don't separate Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. The Orthodox have a very precious role for Europe. We all have the same founding values."

The Pope explained that each of us is important, no one is secondary. Hence in every dialogue, "we must start from our own identity." He gives an example: "I can't do ecumenism if I don't start from my being Catholic, and the other who does ecumenism with me must do so as a Protestant, Orthodox etc... Our own identity is not negotiable; it integrates itself."

The Pope said that the problem with exaggerations is that we isolate ourselves without opening up. Identity, he said, is cultural, national, historical and artistic wealth, and each country has its own, but it must be integrated with dialogue. It is crucial that while starting from one's own identity, one needs to open up to dialogue in order to receive something greater from the identity of others.

Never forget, the Pope said, that "the whole is greater than the parts." Globalization and unity should not be conceived as a sphere, but as a polyhedron: each people retains its identity in unity with others."

The Pope expressed concern about what he terms as "sovereignism" which he describes as an attitude of isolation. He said he is worried about speeches resembling those of Hitler in 1934 that speak of "Us first. We... we..."

While "sovereignism" involves closing in upon oneself, sovereignty is not, the Pope explains. Sovereignty must be defended and relations with other countries, with the European Community, must also be protected and promoted.

"Sovereignism" is an exaggeration that always ends badly: "it leads to wars," the Pope said. Populism, he explained, is a way of imposing an attitude that leads to "sovereignism" and should not be confused with "popularism," which is the culture of the people which needs to be expressed. Suffixing "-ism" to "sovereign", the Pope said, is bad.

On the issue of immigration, Pope Francis stressed the four principles of welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating.

The most important criteria in this, he said, is the right to life, which is linked to conditions of war and hunger that people flee from, especially from the Middle East and Africa. Governments and those authorities are required to think about how many migrants they can take.

The Holy Father also called for creative solutions, such as filling up labour shortage in the agricultural sector. Some countries have semi-empty towns because of the demographic decline. Migrant communities could help revitalize the economy of these areas.

Speaking about war, Pope Francis said: "we must commit ourselves and fight for peace." Hunger mainly concerns the African continent which, he said, is the victim of a cruel curse, that it should be exploited. Instead, he said, part of the solution is to invest there to help solve their problems and thus stop migratory flows.

On being asked about the Synod on the Amazon in October in the Vatican, the Pope said: "it is the 'child' of 'Laudato si'". He clarified that "Laudato si" "is not a 'green encyclical' but a 'social encyclical based on the green reality of the custody of creation."

"It will be our synod of urgency," the Pope said, expressing shock that on Earth Overshoot Day, 29 July, man had already exhausted all the regenerative resources for the current year. This, together with the melting of the glaciers, the risk of rising ocean levels, the increase in plastic waste in the sea, deforestation and other critical situations, he said, makes the planet live in "a situation of world emergency."

The Synod, however, the Pope points out, is not a meeting of scientists, politicians or a parliament. "It was convened by the Church and will have an evangelizing mission and dimension. It will be a work of communion guided by the Holy Spirit."

The important themes of the event are those concerning "the ministries of evangelization and the different ways of evangelizing".

The Pope explains the choice of Amazonia for a synod is because the region involves as many as nine States. "It is a representative and decisive place. Together with the oceans, it contributes decisively to the survival of the planet. Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from there. That's why deforestation means killing humanity."

Asked about politics, the Pope said: "the threat to the lives of the populations and the territory derives from the economic and political interests of the dominant sectors of society." Thus politics must "eliminate its connivances and corruptions."... "It must take concrete responsibility, for example on the subject of open-cast mines, which poison water and cause so many diseases."

The Holy Father expressed confidence in young people and their movements for a new attitude towards the care of Creation, like the Swedish teenage activist, Greta Thunberg, who is leading a worldwide protest against climate change. The Pope said he was moved to see a placard of hers that read: 'We are the future.' It means promoting attention to the little everyday things that "affect" the culture "because they are concrete actions," the Pope said.

Tags: Pope Francis, Populism, Laudato si, Amazon Synod, Ursula von der Leyen, #Populism, #Pope

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