Concern at populist leaders ‘hijacking’ religion

populist leaders

Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is worried about the way populist leaders are “hijacking” religion.

They are doing this by sowing division and exploiting the anger of those who feel excluded, he says.

The Filipino prelate (pictured), who is the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, aired his concerns – and some opportunities to improve matters – at the 2021 Trócaire St Patrick’s College Maynooth annual Lenten lecture.

Speaking via Zoom from Rome after delivering his lecture, he turned to the topic of populist leaders ‘hijacking’ religion, saying:

“There is a growing sense in the world today of divisiveness, and unfortunately religion is being used to further division; sometimes even within the same religious affiliation you have divisions.”

Tagle described the recent rise of populist leaders as “the return of the powerful big-boss-type of people” some of whom “hijack religion”.

They know where the pockets of disgruntled people are and they present themselves as messiahs, he said. They use religion as a “convenient way” of getting followers.

“We need to study carefully why these leaders get followers; why do they become popular?”

Times of confusion such as during a pandemic could, in particular, make the exclusion of people such as the poor and migrants be more susceptible to these influences, Tagle warned.


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News category: World.

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