The Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, sparked controversy on Wednesday when he questioned whether welcoming refugees to Spain from Syria was such a good idea.
“What’s happening in Europe?” the Catholic bishop asked. “This invasion of immigrants… are they completely trustworthy? Where will it leave Spain in a few years?”
Cañizares was speaking during a forum on Europe and the Mediterranean organized by the New Economic Forum.
He also raised the question of whether refugees were coming to Spain “because they were being persecuted” arguing that “many are not”.
He called for “clarity” and to see “who is behind all this”.
“We must be clear headed and not let everyone in, because today it could be someone who gets along very well, but it is in fact the Trojan horse for European societies and specifically Spain.”
Cañizares is so stranger to controversy and was criticised in 2009 for claiming abortion was worse than child abuse when he said:
“What happened in some schools cannot be compared with the millions of lives that have been destroyed by abortion. It has legally destroyed 40 million human lives.”
Poverty in Spain
The Spanish archbishop also played down reports of increased poverty in Spain, arguing that “you don’t see any more people than before on the streets or living under bridges.”
He said claims were “exaggerated” and that Spaniards needed to “recognize the economic recovery” in Spain.
The cardinal's words contradict those of his boss. Pope Francis recently urged “every Catholic parish in Europe” to take in a refugee family, setting the ultimate example by putting up a Syrian refugee family in a Vatican apartment.