Cardinal Anders Arborelius said in an interview Thursday that although many world leaders do not follow his advice, Pope Francis has a “prophetic voice” regarding immigration and many people are in fact listening to him.
Speaking with Crux, a U.S.-based online Catholic website, the bishop of Stockholm said that “not many political partners” follow Francis totally, but “people of all creeds and opinions are listening to him, so there is always a possibility for him to help people open up for a more positive outlook on migration.”
The pope himself has said that this is indeed his goal, to effect a “change in mindset” regarding immigration.
“We must move from considering others as threats to our comfort to valuing them as persons whose life experience and values can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society,” the pontiff said last month.
“For this to happen, our basic approach must be to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her,” he added.
Arborelius, who received the cardinal’s hat from Pope Francis last year, said that despite the rise in populism and nationalism he does not think “that the entire European project is in danger,” but lamented the fact that “every nation is eager to follow its own policy in these matters.”
The cardinal said that he regretted Sweden’s tightening of its immigration policy in response to a sharp increase in violent crimes linked to migrants. Like so many countries, he said, Sweden “has changed its attitude and it is much more difficult for refugees to enter the country. I am sorry that Sweden’s policy is not as positive as Pope Francis thought.”
Although the political currents in Europe are trending toward curbing mass immigration, Arborelius applauded the pope’s use of soft power, by bringing stories of tragedies and suffering before the public eye.
“We know that people of different backgrounds still listen to the Holy Father and there are sometimes more open minds than we think,” he said. “Personal witnesses and stories about persecution and suffering can still move the hearts even of politicians opposing immigration.”
In its interview, Crux described the cardinal as a “long-time champion” of welcoming immigrants and refugees in his work as bishop of Stockholm.
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