“In times of crisis, we lack judgment, and that is a constant reference for me,” the pontiff said in an in-depth interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Joinfo.com reports with reference to NBC News.
“The most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. After the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler,” the pontiff said.
“Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people,” the pope added.
Pope Francis’ warnings come as a wave of populism washes over Europe, and as voters angry with traditional political elites throw their weight behind nationalist, anti-immigrant leaders.
During the same interview, the pope said he was reserving judgement on President Donald Trump.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion,” he said.
Immediately after Trump’s inauguration ceremony Friday, the Pope sent him his best wishes, with prayers “that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.”
Francis has not struck such a conciliatory tone in the past.
When asked about Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall alongside the U.S.-Mexico border on his way back from a trip to Mexico in 2016, the pope said that a “person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
The pope’s previous comments provoked a furious reaction from Trump, who said in a statement on his website: “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 because this would not have happened.”