Pope FrancisPope FrancisRetired pope says he hopes to soon join friends in 'the afterlife' Religion and the G-20: With faith, we can move mountains The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE criticizes the protests against coronavirus-related lockdown measures in a forthcoming book, while defending anti-racism protests and criticizing their toppling of statues.
In the 150-page book, “Let Us Dream,” ghostwritten by his English-language biographer Austen Ivereigh, the pontiff says those who protested pandemic measures reacted “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom,” according to The Associated Press.
“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” Francis added. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”
Francis calls Floyd’s May death in Minneapolis a moral outrage, saying "abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against."
However, he also called counterproductive the defacement of statues of Confederate leaders and other figures associated with slavery and racism, such as Christopher Columbus or former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo.
“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” the pope wrote, according to the AP.
The book also takes aim at populist leaders who identify scapegoats for their countries’ ills, comparing them to nascent fascist movements on the eve of the second world war.
“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” the pope wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”
Francis warns that “superficially religious people” can be particularly vulnerable to such appeals, and support such leaders at the ballot box “to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”
The book is set to be released Dec. 1.