Pope Francis recently made a critical statement about Donald Trump's immigration policy in an interview. Francis questioned Donald Trump's commitment to pro-life principles because of his tough immigration stance. In short, Francis suggested that being pro-life and ending protection for undocumented young people are contradictory positions.
The Pope's comments were made while aboard the papal plane on September 10 during a comment about Donald Trump's plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. His comments were translated and released today by the National Catholic Register.
"I have heard the President of the United States speak," remarked Francis, according to the National Catholic Register. "He presents himself as a pro-life man. If he is a good pro-lifer, he should understand that the family is the cradle of life and you must defend its unity. Removing young people from their families is not a thing that bears good fruit, neither for the young person nor the family."
The NCR noted that Pope Francis has not read the details of DACA — Francis himself noted this in the interview, and doesn't claim to have an opinion on the particular details of the plan. His only position is that removing young people from their families is not a good thing. Promoting family values, believes Pope Francis, involves ensuring that all families — including ones without paperwork deeming the citizens of the United States — remain together.
The Pope remarked that he is particularly worried about young people who become detached from their roots and lose hope for the future: "Young people today need to re-find their roots and anything that goes against this robs them of hope."
Former President Barack Obama began the deferred action program in 2012 to protect roughly 800,000 young people in the country illegally from deportation. Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions announced last week that the president will be ending, in six months, Obama's program and will be placing those young people at risk of deportation.
Pope Francis and Donald Trump have long had a rocky relationship. Tension between the bombastic businessman and the unpredictable Pope began in 2016 when Francis remarked in a press conference that "a person who thinks only about building walls and not about building bridges is not a Christian." Trump responded that it is "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question somebody's faith.
Pope Francis' comments do not, of course, claim that the United States has no right to defend its borders or sovereignty. And they do not claim that the United States has no right to deport illegal aliens, especially those who are criminals. Rather, Pope Francis believes that being pro-life means being pro-family, and that being pro-family means keeping law-abiding parents and children together regardless of their immigration status.
US Catholic Bishops are generally split on their approach to President Trump. Many have opposed him, especially on issues of immigration and foreign policy, but others have given him notable praise, especially on the issue of life and abortion. Donald Trump also won the Catholic vote during the 2016 election, most likely because of his pro-life stances and promise to put somebody on the Supreme Court who will continue the legacy of Antonin Scalia. Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, accused Catholic bishops of having ulterior motive in opposing DACA because they "need illegal immigrants to fill their churches."
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