Pope Francis: does what he talks about

Whenever Pope Francis talks about the need to welcome immigrants, to build bridges not walls, and to invest in the countries from which people are fleeing, critics inevitably will ask, “Okay, but what are you doing about it?”

From snarky observations about the walls around Vatican city to wry observations about all the under-utilized ecclesiastical facilities in Rome, a standard trope for skeptics of papal rhetoric is to charge that Francis doesn’t walk his own talk.

In truth, however, this “pope of the poor” is doing quite a bit, from helping fund hospitals in the Central African Republic to having the Vatican sponsor migrant families arriving from the Middle East.

Much more is done on a daily basis by Catholic charities around the world, from Catholic Relief Services, the international charity of the United States bishops’ conference, to local Caritas offices at the forefront of the refugee welcoming process in countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain.

Without diminishing the efforts of these organizations that make the Catholic Church arguably the world’s largest non-governmental provider of humanitarian aid to migrants and refugees, this summary treats only what the Vatican is doing under Pope Francis.


Though the conflict in the country has faded into a media black zone, Ukraine is still at war with Russia over the annexation of the eastern peninsula of Crimea, and pro-Russian separatists have since taken control of eastern portions of Ukraine. An estimated 1.9 million people are currently internally displaced.

Francis made some missteps on this issue, particularly back in 2015 when he referred to the conflict as “fratricidal” — deeply offending many Ukrainians, who see it instead as the result of foreign aggression.

Yet last year the pope called for a special collection in every Catholic church in Europe to help the Ukrainians, collecting close to $13 million, half of which was distributed last December. Continue reading

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  • Article by Inés San Martín, Vatican correspondent, Crux
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