Pope Francis is driven through the crowd as a large banner reading " Let's renew the church " is visible in foreground, in Palermo, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Pope Francis is paying tribute in Sicily to a priest who worked to keep youths away from the Mafia and was slain by mobsters. Francis has flown to the Mediterranean island on the 25th anniversary of the assassination in Palermo of the Rev. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglisi, who has been declared a martyr by the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope says populism should serve people, not stir up quarrels

September 15, 2018 - 5:45 am

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Pope Francis is recommending a Christian kind of populism after being attacked by Italian politicians for defending migrants.

Francis told a crowd of 100,000 at an outdoor Mass on Saturday that "the only possible populism" is a Christian one that "listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels."

The pope spoke in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea in recent years were taken to the Italian island's ports.

Francis has staunchly championed the rights of migrants.

Italy's new populist government is discouraging their arrival. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini insists people rescued at sea from human traffickers' boats won't be allowed in Italy.

Salvini's stand on migration clashes with Francis' calls for solidarity, but opinion surveys indicate his popularity is increasing quickly.