Pope Francis on Trump: Warns Against Populist Leaders Like Hitler Who Claim to Be 'Saviors'

In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, pope cautions against European populism of the kind that produced Hitler, but with regard to Trump, says: 'I think we must wait and see.'

Pope Francis waves to the crowds from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square at Vatican City on August 7, 2016.
Andreas Solaro/AFP

Pope Francis said he would not form an opinion of Donald Trump until he first had a chance to see specific policies the new U.S. president implements. "I think that we must wait and see. I don't like to get ahead of myself or judge people prematurely," the pope told the Spanish newspaper El Pais as Trump was taking office on Friday.

Speaking to the Spanish newspaper El Pais as Trump was taking office, the pope urged the president to be guided by ethical values, saying he must care for the poor and the outcast during his time in office.

"We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing in advance because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities," the pontiff said.

Francis warned Europeans against populism, saying they should not repeat mistakes from the 1930s, when they turned to "saviors" to resolve the economic and political crisis only to have it end in war. "Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933... a people immersed in crisis that looked for its identity until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened," the pope said.

Adolf Hitler "was voted for by the people and then he destroyed the people," Frances stated, adding that in crises "we defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire fences, from other peoples."

With reporting by Reuters and AP.