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Populism fueling self-centered rejection of migrants, pope says


  • Refugees from Eritrea tell Pope Francis about their journey to safety during a meeting Feb. 21 at the Vatican with participants in the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Indifference, fueled by populist rhetoric in today's world, fans the flames of rejection that threaten the rights and dignity of migrants, Pope Francis said.

Refugees escaping persecution, violence and poverty are often shunned and deemed as "unworthy of our attention, a rival or someone to be bent to our will," the pope told participants of the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace.

"Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centeredness and amplified by populist demagoguery, what is needed is a change of attitude to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors," he said Feb. 21.

The Feb. 21-22 conference, "Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action," was organized by the Scalabrini International Migration Network and sponsored by the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

According to the forum's website, the conference focused on refugee crisis management while aiming to "influence migration policies and practices in Europe."

In his speech, the pope said millions of people are being forced to flee their homelands due to "conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions."

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