Pope Francis on Sunday spoke out against governments that build walls to keep out migrants, reiterating his calls for a compassionate approach to migration.
“Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up,” the Pope said. “This is history.”
Francis made his comments to reporters while flying to Rome after a visit to Morocco, and when asked about the efforts of several nations, including the US and Spain, to build walls and fences to keep out migrants, Francis made his remark.
He said he wept after a Spanish journalist showed him a piece of concertina wire from the border of Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco.
Francis’ remark about walls has particular resonance in the United States, where President Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and railed against undocumented immigrants.
The Pope’s comment on Sunday was far from the first time he had pointed criticism for hardline immigration policies and border walls. Speaking in Panama earlier this year, Francis said, “Builders of walls sow fear.”
Francis likewise said during Trump’s presidential campaign that his call for a border wall made him “not Christian.”
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said in 2016. “This is not the gospel.”
At the time, Trump shot back at the Pope, calling the comment “disgraceful” and warning of an attack from ISIS against the Vatican.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president,” Trump said.
Shortly after Trump took office, he and the Pope met at the Vatican.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Pope Francis spoke to reporters aboard a flight to Rome.