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Vatican official urges use of language that builds trust among nations


  • Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for the Integral Development of People, gestures alongside John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, during a May 31 panel discussion at the Jesuit-run university in Washington. (CNS photo/Rafael Suanes, Georgetown University)
  • Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for the Integral Development of People, and John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, smile during a May 31 panel discussion at the Jesuit-run university in Washington. (CNS photo/Rafael Suanes, Georgetown University)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Peter Turkson, a top adviser to Pope Francis, questioned how well President Donald Trump's declarations of "America first" serve understanding across the broader global community.

"That's a language that I think is not useful to speak because it makes the others say, 'Who are we?'" Cardinal Turkson, prefect of the Vatican's new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said in an interview with Catholic News Service May 31.

The Vatican, he said, defers to local bishops' conferences -- in this case the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- to respond if it so chooses. But he said leaders in other countries could question why the U.S. sets itself above others.

"I don't think it makes for the atmosphere of trust," Cardinal Turkson said.

The cardinal was at Georgetown University in Washington to attend a three-day meeting of leaders of U.S. academic centers focused on Catholic social thought. The gathering was designed to allow center directors and faculty to discuss ways to more broadly share Catholic social teaching and advance the message of Pope Francis in the universal church, said John Carr, director of the university's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Vatican observer to the U.N. agencies in Geneva who now works alongside Cardinal Turkson, also attended the meeting.

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