As Pope Francis heads to Poland, will Europe lash out over his pro-migration stance?
Pope Francis was widely praised last year when he strongly encouraged Europe to welcome refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East.
Now as terror attacks tick up across the continent — some of which are being blamed on those same refugees — Europeans are lashing out over their leader’s pro-migration stances. The crisis has led to a surge in far-right political support and was even cited as one of the main reasons for Britain’s monumental decision to leave the E.U.
Aside from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no world leader was more closely associated with unfettered migration than Pope Francis. The pontiff could fairly be described as the poster-child of advocates.
As Catholic pilgrims descend on conservative Poland for World Youth Day, it seems all but assured that Francis will get a warm welcome. But when the time comes for the pope to talk about refugees (which he will surely do,) will the audience all but ignore his pleas?
Unlike Merkel, who is in a very tough place politically ahead of elections, few will blame the Holy Father for his support for refugees. There is, however, a good chance that the pope’s words will fall on deaf ears (just as in the U.S., where a sizable number of Catholics are supporting Donald Trump — despite Francis saying that Christians don’t build border walls.)
Even within the Church hierarchy, there is disagreement about this wave of migration. While some bishops have appealed for Europeans to stay the course in the wake of the attacks, other members of the clergy — particularly priests in Poland — have raised fears that an influx of Muslim migration could threaten the country’s Catholic character, The Guardian notes.
Pope Francis’ biggest critic — U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke — recently joined the fray by warning that Islam “wants to govern the world,” according to Religion News Service.
“When they become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country,” Burke said.