Support the Café

Search our Site

A marginalization of the vulnerable: Pope Francis speaks up against nationalism

A marginalization of the vulnerable: Pope Francis speaks up against nationalism

Pope Francis marked New Year’s Day, January 1, also World Day of Peace, with an address to the diplomatic corps that warned against the rise of nationalism around the world. In Sight magazine:

“The reappearance of these impulses today is progressively weakening the multilateral system, resulting in a general lack of trust, a crisis of credibility in international political life, and a gradual marginalisation of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations,” he said…

The Pope said it was troubling to see the re-emergence of tendencies “to impose and pursue individual national interests without having recourse to the instruments provided by international law for resolving controversies and ensuring that justice is respected, also through international courts”.

“Such an attitude is at times the result of a reaction on the part of government leaders to growing unease among the citizens of not a few countries, who perceive the procedures and rules governing the international community as slow, abstract and ultimately far removed from their own real needs,” he said.

While noting that it was fitting political leaders “listen to the voices of their constituencies and seek concrete solutions to promote their greater good”, he added: “Yet this demands respect for law and justice both within their national communities and within the international community, since reactive, emotional and hasty solutions may well be able to garner short-term consensus, but they will certainly not help the solution of deeper problems; indeed, they will aggravate them…Politics must be farsighted and not limited to seeking short-term solutions.”

The New York Times:

Francis did not cite specific countries in his speech, delivered to diplomats at the Holy See, but he appeared to be lamenting the mix of jingoism and isolationism that has emerged in the United States and in European nations where populist governments have risen to power.

Noting that the League of Nations, established after World War I, had failed to head off another war largely because countries were not willing to work together, Francis raised the specter of fresh violence.

“The same attitudes are presently threatening the stability of the major international organizations,” he said, urging Europeans in particular to remain united in the face of “temptation to erect new curtains.”

From Reuters:

Populist anti-immigrant parties made gains in a number of countries last year, including Italy, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Brazil and Poland.

In the United States, a partial government shutdown entered its third week as President Donald Trump has pledged not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern border with Mexico..

In his hour-long speech, Francis several times mentioned the League of Nations, which was set up after World War One to promote peace but failed to stop the nationalist and populist movements that helped lead to World War Two.

The Pope’s address touched on specific issues including immigration, nuclear weapons, climate change and the sex scandals inside the Catholic Church:

Francis praised the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration, which set objectives for how the movement of people can be managed. The United States, Italy, Hungary and Poland are among nations that boycotted the meeting in Morocco last year.

The pope again condemned the arms trade and possession of nuclear weapons, lamenting that past efforts at nuclear disarmament had given way to “the search for new and increasingly sophisticated and destructive weapons”.

He called for a more decisive commitment to combating global warming and for “rethinking our relationship with our planet”.

Calling sexual abuse of children “one of the plagues of our time”, he said a meeting of key bishops at the Vatican in February would aim to “shed full light on the facts and to alleviate the wounds caused by such crimes”.

The transcript of his “state of the world” address can be found on the Vatican News site.

Image from Vatican Media.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eric Bonetti

It is ironic: The headline rather sounds like Francis is speaking of the abuse of children.

Brad Hayton

The UN is specifically for abortion on demand, euthanasia, and contraception, just to name a few doctrines and practices that are specifically anti-Catholic and pro-death. Benedict XVI bemoaned the secularism and paganism of the EU, but Francis appears to praise it. Communist China has mass murdered Christians and has recently stepped up it persecution of Christians, a country with perhaps more Christians than Europe, but Pope Francis praises it for it’s unity with Rome. European countries are rapidly becoming Muslim due to loose immigration policies, and Francis encourages them to do more. One might wonder with this classic question, “Is the Pope Catholic?”

Brad Hayton

It is interesting that Pope Francis deplores “nationalism,” but then at the same time deplores “globalization.” He encourages “localism,” but then deplores it in the same breath. He praises the secular organizations of the League of Nations, the United Nations, and the European Union — all of which deplore the Christian faith and based or base their decisions upon anti Christian faith and especially anti Catholic faith. President Wilson’s ideology of every people has the right to “self-determination” is the heart of most of the nationalist movements in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and even Arab or Muslim countries. (Indeed, Lawrence of Arabia used this “right” to enlist Arab help in fighting the Ottoman Empire!) Pope Francis appears to like the Treaty of Versailles which most historians link to the root of World War II. Most would agree that the United Nations is governed by secularists and now even countries that support socialism and communism, let alone terrorism.


Living in France, one would note the rise of explicitly nationalist party movements across Europe. There are places where comparisons can be made, and places where the european distinctives are very different. No one of these countries has anything like the huge numerical influx of populations across a vast southern border that the USA does. All of them reject illegal immigration, as does Canada, and do not tolerate it. When Trump used the word ‘nationalist’ reflexively a leader like Macron cringed. There is a bona fide nationalist party challenge, and the gilets jeunes movement racking the cities of France rubs elbows with it in concern for French life on the ground.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café