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Pope Francis condemns Trump administration’s migrant family-separation policy

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Pope Francis has condemned the US government’s policy of separating children from migrant families at the Mexican border.

The Pope told the Reuters news agency that “populism is not the solution” to high levels of immigration, and said that he supported recent statements by the US bishops describing the policy as “immoral” and “contrary to our Catholic values”.

American bishops have condemned the practice of putting children of illegal immigrants in government shelters while their parents are held in jail. Pope Francis said he supported their position, adding: “Let it be clear that in these things, I respect [the position of] the bishops conference.”

On the wider subject of immigration, Pope Francis blamed populists for “creating a psychosis” on the issue, and argued that societies like Europe need immigrants as they face a “demographic winter”. Without them, Europe will “become empty”, he added.

The Pope also tacitly criticised the new Italian government, which has taken a tough stance on immigration, turning away a migrant ship last week.

“I believe that you cannot reject people who arrive. You have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout all of Europe,” Pope Francis said.

“Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure. Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence.”

In a wide-ranging interview, the Pope also spoke about the talks between the Holy See and China, and indicated he may accept more resignations from the bishops in Chile.

He rejected accusations he was selling out Chinese Catholics who remained loyal to the Church and said talks to resolve the dispute over the appointment of bishops are “at a good point”.

Regarding the “dubia”, the Pope said the first he heard about the letter from the four cardinals was “from the newspapers … a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes”.

Reuters says it will release more details of the Pope’s interview later.