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Pope Francis warns the world that populism led Europe to Hitler

'Hitler didn't steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people.'


Amrita Khalid


Published Jan 23, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 3:46 am CDT

Pope Francis gave a reminder to the world on Sunday that times of crisis often spark rash decisions that don’t benefit humanity. 

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El País at the Vatican this weekend, the pope warned that growing populism in Europe could result in the election of leaders such as Adolf Hitler. 

“Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people,” said the pope. 

His hour-long interview with the Spanish newspaper shed light on topics such as the wave of anti-immigrant and anti-establishment political movements that have taken hold of Europe and the United States. 

“Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of populism in the European sense of the word is Germany in 1933. After [Paul von] Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, it needs a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: ‘I can, I can,'” said Francis. 

Since becoming the leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis has stirred hope among progressives, both Catholics and non-Catholics. Many saw the pope’s refusal to condemn LGBT individuals, his encyclical on climate change, and a softer stance on abortion and birth control as signs that the Catholic Church would be ushering in a new future. But the pope has likewise raised alarm bells among conservatives—both within and outside his faith.

Francis has urged nations to move toward peace, human rights, and fighting poverty. He asked Europe to take on more refugees and immigrants and fought back against Brexit and Donald Trump‘s political rhetoric.

Francis gave Trump a message of support after he was sworn in, and offered prayers. When asked about what fate awaits the world under the President Trump, the pope said it was crucial to “wait and see.” 

He added: “I don’t like to get ahead of myself, nor to judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will form an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that will not come to pass. We will see what he does and will judge accordingly. Always work with the specific. Christianity is either specific or it is not Christianity,” said the pope.

Trump called out the pope on the campaign trail last year and accused him of being “a very political person” and wondered whether he was a pawn for  Mexico

Francis gave a candid response to Trump’s attack: 

“Thank God he said I am a political man. Because Aristotle defines a human being as a political animal: At least I am a human being. Am I a pawn? Well, maybe. I will leave that up to your judgment. And a person who only thinks about making a wall, wherever it may be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian,” said Francis. 

But the Catholic Church is by no means a monolith. Pro-life Catholic groups that were at odds with the Obama administration due to its Obamacare policies on birth control and contraception are likely to find a new ally in the Trump administration. Cardinal Timothy Dolan applauded the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate the Mexico City policy that bans U.S. government funding of non-governmental organizations that provide abortion and other contraceptive services to women in foreign nations. 

H/T El País

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2017, 7:29 pm CST