VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis called for greater compassion for refugees and marginalized people less than a week after President Trump ordered a temporary immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In a video of the pontiff’s prayer intentions for February, the pope does not specifically refer to the president or his policies but emphasizes his concern about large numbers of people who he says are being marginalized and forgotten on the fringes of society.
“Don’t abandon them,” the pope says in the video, which features men and women comforting a homeless man on the street.
“Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees and marginalized, so they may be welcomed and find comfort in our communities.”
The pope’s video was released Thursday (Feb. 2), a day after one of the Vatican’s most senior officials voiced “concern” about Trump’s executive order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and impose a travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The pope’s monthly video is titled “Welcome the Needy,” and Francis speaks in his native Spanish.
“We live in cities that build skyscrapers and shopping centers and strike big real estate deals,” the pope says in the video. “But they abandon a part of themselves on the margins, on the outskirts. As a result, huge sections of the population are excluded and marginalized: without a job, without options, with no way out.”
The Holy See’s deputy secretary of state, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, told a Catholic TV channel on Wednesday there was concern at the Vatican: ”We are builders of bridges, far less of walls, and all Christians should emphatically reaffirm this message,” he said.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, Francis sent the incoming president a telegram urging him not to forget the poor and those in need. The pope created headlines last year when he said anyone thinking about building walls instead of bridges was “not a Christian.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement earlier this week that Trump’s immigration ban had “generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States.”
(Josephine McKenna is RNS’ Vatican correspondent)