Home News Pope calls for international unity against weapons of mass destruction

Pope calls for international unity against weapons of mass destruction

Pope Francis has called “for involvement on the part of all” against the threat of the weapons of mass destruction during his Apostolic Visit to the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” the pontiff said on Nov. 24 in a speech delivered in Spanish.

He stressed that “to make this ideal,” there is a need for the involvement of “individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.”

The pope said the “deepest longings” of humanity are “security, peace, and stability,” but “the possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to this desire.”

He said the development and possession of nuclear weapons is a “false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and distrust.”

He said: “Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”

International peace can be achieved, he said, “only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility.”

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The pontiff emphasized that the world’s response to the threat of nuclear weapons “must be joint and concerted” and “inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust.”

Pope Francis stressed the “need to break down the climate of distrust that risks leading to a dismantling of the international arms control framework.”

“We are witnessing an erosion of multilateralism which is all the more serious in light of the growth of new forms of military technology,” he said.

“Such an approach seems highly incongruous in today’s context of interconnectedness; it represents a situation that urgently calls for the attention and commitment of all leaders,” he added.

The Holy See signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty that was passed at the United Nations in July 2017.

The treaty has the support of some 122 nations, but it has to be ratified by the required 50 states before it could take effect. 

Almost all countries in the world that possess nuclear weapons, including Japan and the United States, have opposed the treaty.

The head of the Catholic Church said he is convinced that “a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary.”

He urged world leaders “not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security.” 

“We need to ponder the catastrophic impact of their deployment, especially from a humanitarian and environmental standpoint and reject heightening a climate of fear, mistrust, and hostility fomented by nuclear doctrines,” said Pope Francis.

‘Unspeakable horror’

The 82-year-old pope delivered his speech to some 1,000 raincoat-wearing attendees at the ground zero site of the 1945 nuclear attack on Nagasaki.

The pontiff said that the place “makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.”

He said the damaged cross and statue of Our Lady that were recently found in the Cathedral of Nagasaki “remind us once more of the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families.”

Pope Francis said the “attempts to speak out against the arms race,” which caused catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impacts, “will never be enough.”

“The arms race wastes precious resources that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment,” he said.

“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven,” the pontiff added.

Church response

Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s irrevocable commitment “to promoting peace between peoples and nations.”

“This is a duty to which the Church feels bound before God and every man and woman in our world,” he said.

He urged the faithful to “never grow weary of working to support the principal international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.”

The pope urged everyone to “make every effort not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

“I ask you to join in praying each day for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation, and fraternity. A fraternity that can recognize and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny,” he said.

In May 2018, Nagasaki Mayor Tomohisa Taue invited the pontiff to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan’s two cities that were destroyed by nuclear attacks during World War II.

On Dec. 17, 2018, Pope Francis expressed his desire to visit Japan during his meeting with Cardinal Manyo Maeda. After one month, the Vatican announced the plan to visit the country in November.

After first visiting Thailand for four days, the pope is in Japan until Nov. 26.  

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