PALERMO, Sicily — Pope Francis is recommending a Christian kind of populism after being attacked by Italian politicians for defending migrants.
Francis told a crowd of 100,000 at an outdoor Mass on Saturday that “the only possible populism” is a Christian one that “listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels.”
The pope spoke in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea in recent years were taken to the Italian island’s ports.
Francis has staunchly championed the rights of migrants.
Italy’s new populist government is discouraging their arrival. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini insists people rescued at sea from human traffickers’ boats won’t be allowed in Italy.
Salvini’s stand on migration clashes with Francis’s calls for solidarity, but opinion surveys indicate his popularity is increasing quickly.