Pope Francis Compares New European Nationalism to Hitler’s Rise to Power a Day After Italy’s Far-Right Deputy PM Matteo Salvini Launched Bid to Strengthen His Grip on Government

Pope Francis attends an audience with participants of a course on the Internal Forum promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary Court, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Friday, March 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis compared European nationalism to Hitler’s rise to power today after Italy‘s Matteo Salvini attempted to tighten his grip on power.

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, whose slogan is ‘Italians first,’ pulled support for the coalition government and called for snap elections on Thursday.

Salvini had urged for a ‘sovereignist’ right-wing front to challenge the EU in European elections earlier this year.

The pope warned, in an interview published in La Stampa on Friday, that ‘sovereignism reveals an attitude toward isolation’ and compared increasing nationalism to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s.

‘I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934. “Us first, We… We…” These are frightening thoughts,’ the pope told the Turin paper.

The 82-year-old pontiff lived through years of right-wing dictatorship in his native Argentina.

Ahead of the EU elections in May, Salvini reached out in his bid for a ‘sovereignist’ alliance to France’s far-right party leader Marine Le Pen and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Far-right parties performed strongly in those polls.