Pope scolds countries fomenting migration by making war weapons

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Pope Francis on Sunday rebuked countries that produce weapons for wars fought elsewhere and then refuse to take in refugees fleeing those conflicts.

Francis made his comments in a homily of a mass for tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, marked by local Churches around the world.

The 82-year-old Argentine pope, whose parents were Italian immigrants, has made defence of migrants and refugees a plank of his pontificate and has often clashed over immigration policy with US President Donald Trump and populist anti-immigrant politicians in Europe.

Francis has also repeatedly criticised the arms trade and his homily, which incorporated some of his previous statements, linked the issues of war and migration.

“Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts,” Francis said, without naming any countries or conflicts.

Saying that the world was “increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded,” the head of the 1.3 billion-member Church told Catholics it was their duty to look after all those left behind in a “throwaway culture” taking root in society.

“This means being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met,” he said.

People could not remain indifferent to “the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group,” he said.

Francis then inaugurated a large sculpture made of bronze and clay in St. Peter’s Square showing dozens of migrants and refugees from different periods of history, including an orthodox Jew, huddled together.

The life-size sculpture, entitled “Angels Unawares,” was made by Canadian artist Timothy Schmaltz and its presence in St Peter’s Square was meant to commemorate the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.