Pope Francis has been bombarded with abuse from Italian Twitter users after urging Catholics to pray for migrants.
‘Migrants are first of all human persons, and that they are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalised society,’ the pontiff tweeted on Monday.
But his charitable sentiments garnered him abuse from social media users in Italy.
Pope Francis blesses a child after celebrating a Mass for migrants on the sixth anniversary of his trip to the island of Lampedusa, in the Vaticanon Monday
‘Enough! Stop it! And change the record!’ commented one Twitter user.
‘When you have a bit of time between a lecture on migrants and a sermon on migrants, tell us something about the children and the destroyed families of Bibbiano,’ said another.
Bibbiano is the Italian port where the German captain of a private rescue boat carrying illegal immigrants threatened to ram an Italian police vessel trying to stop it from landing last week.
‘If maybe after four years talking only about migrants, you would also say a few words about Jesus, Mary, the Holy Ghost, the resurrection, Hell, I swear we wouldn’t be offended,’ wrote another
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who has refused to take in any more illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘The word migrants is a mystification of reality. We begin to make distinctions; take the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to the Vatican and you keep them.’
‘You’re out of order! Kick your a*** to Avignon!’ read one angry response, referring to the French town where seven successive popes reigned from 1309 and 1377.
Francis also prayed for migrants in a written homily published on Monday
‘These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary.’
Pope Francis blesses a child after celebrating a Mass for migrants on the sixth anniversary of his trip to the island of Lampedusa on Monday
Pope Francis blesses a child after celebrating a Mass for migrants on the sixth anniversary of his trip to the island of Lampedusa, in the Vatican on Monday
The Pope’s call for compassion for migrants could put him at odds with populist Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.
Salvini has vowed that Italy will no longer host the hundreds of thousands illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa every year.
And he has accused other EU states, especially France and Germany, of hypocrisy for condemning his stance while refusing to take in more arrivals.