Tags: Immigration | Pope Francis | Religion | matteo salvini | catechism | catholic | church

Pope Won't Meet Italian Leader Salvini Due to Migrant Hardline

pop francis spreads holy water with a metal rod and ball
Pope Francis (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

By Sunday, 26 May 2019 08:10 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Like nearly all of his predecessors, Pope Francis has received guests in the Vatican who disagree with him and with the Roman Catholic Church. 

Among them have been Dr. Paul Ehrlich (father of the modern birth control movement), Turkey's strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who envisions himself as head of a Muslim caliphate in the Middle East, and Italian Sen. Emma Bonino, a vigorous abortion supporter.

But the Holy Father still steadfastly refuses to meet with the man considered Italy's most popular politician, Lega (League) Party leader and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini.

This is almost exclusively due, several Italian news outlets concluded, to Salvini enforcing tough measures to reduce the flow of immigrants from the Middle East into Italy. According to government data, the number of migrants landing on the shores of Sicily dropped 91.79 percent in the last year. 

The same data says the number of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, caused by rough conditions on ships arranged by smuggler and human traffickers, went down 28 percent.

(Although Salvini gets credit — or blame — for his country's tough immigration policies, they were actually started under Marco Miniti, interior minister under the predecessor center-left government of Prime Minister Marco Renzi. In February 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding with Libya (MoU) was signed between Italy and the Tripoli government, stressing the importance of state sovereignty and territorial integrity over the protection of asylum seekers, and aiming to stop migrant departures across the Mediterranean to Italy).

It is largely due to Salvini's maintaining this hardline on migrants, sources in Italy insist, that his Northern League will sweep the elections Sunday for the European Parliament.

The Pope, however, steadfastly refuses to give him an audience.

According to the Italian publications Il Giorno and Il Mio Giornale, Salvini has attempted to secure a papal audience and been rebuffed each time. Both sources reported Salvini had been told "a meeting could not occur if Salvini continues in his tough position regarding migrants."

For his part, Salvini, 46, a practicing Catholic, insists he follows Church teaching and his policies are designed to support immigration for reasons of security and to stop trafficking and smuggling.

As examples that his policy on migrants is in accordance with his Church, Salvini and his supporters cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 2241): "Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens."

They also point out Francis' viewpoint is not universal among Church leaders. Robert Cardinal Sarah of Guinea, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has said a nation has the right to differentiate between refugees and economic migrants.

Sarah, widely mentioned as a possible successor to Francis, has "also acknowledged a globalist effort to de-Christianize the West via mass migration," according to Life Site News (a Catholic publication).   

Many observers of Italian politics predict Salvini will soon jettison his current coalition partner, the left-of-center Five Star Movement, and form a new coalition that will make him prime minister.  Whether the Pope meets him in that capacity will surely be one of Italy's major political stories.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The man considered Italy's most popular politician, Lega (League) Party leader and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, has been stonewalling on meeting with Pope Francis, Newsmax John Gizzi reports.
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Sunday, 26 May 2019 08:10 AM
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