Matteo Salvini Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party leader on Wednesday heavily criticised Pope Francis’ plea that “people and institutions” who close doors on migrants should seek forgiveness from God.
“I encourage those who bring them aid and hope that the international community will act in a united and efficient fashion to prevent the causes of forced migration,” said Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday.
“And I invite everyone to ask God’s pardon for those people and institutions who close the door to those who are seeking a family, who are seeking to be protected,” he added.
Though not everyone shared the same view as Francis, Salvini who consistently states that migrant boats should be forcibly kept off Italian shores slammed the Pope claiming he doesn’t need forgiveness.
Speaking to his party’s radio Salvini also said “How many refugees has the Vatican taken in?”
The pontiff's comments came a day after the European interior ministers met in Brussels, failing to agree on common terms to tackle the Mediterranean crisis or house the thousands of migrant who arrive on a daily basis.
Italy is facing a high influx of asylum seekers through the Mediterranean and is struggling to house migrants both socially and economically as the country is trying to break-free of an economic crisis.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi constantly urges the European Union to share the burden of hosting by relocating newly arrived migrants across europe.
However, the meeting of the interior ministers of the EU nations that was held on Tuesday in Luxembourg to predominantly discuss the mandatory migrant quota system and the worsening Mediterranean migrant crisis which is a growing burden on Italy and Greece, shattered Renzi’s hope, as the EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos stated that “We have made progress today but we are not there yet.”
The EU ministers took no decision to implement the proposal of the European Commission for distribution quotas.
The proposal of the commission is to relocate 40,000 new migrant arrivals within the next two years in accordance with a “distribution key” that considers a country’s population size, unemployment rate and number of asylum seekers previously accepted.