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Nuclear weapons inherently immoral, Pope says

November 10, 2017

Pope Francis issued an unmistakable condemnation of nuclear weapons on November, declaring that “the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is firmly to be condemned.”

The Pope made this clear statement in an address to participants in a two-day conference on nuclear disarmament, being hosted at the Vatican by the dicastery for Integral Human Development. The conference has drawn an impressive group of participants, including eleven Nobel Prize winners and diplomatic representatives from the UN, the European Union, NATO, and the world’s leading political powers.

In his remarks the Pope denounced even the possession of nuclear weapons for their deterrent effect, saying that the presence of such weapons creates “a climate of instability and conflict” and a “mentality of fear.” He also mentioned the possibility of accidental detonation, with catastrophic effects.

“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security,” the Pontiff said. “They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that a “certain pessimism” prevails among world leaders about the prospect for disarmament, since years of work have not produced progress toward the abolition of nuclear armaments. On the contrary, he observed, “the instruments of international law have not prevented new states from joining those already in possession of nuclear weapons.”

The Pope said that “the escalation of the arms race continues unabated.” He lamented that the massive expenditure of funds on armaments, including nuclear arms, means that “the real facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and healthcare projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”

Still the Holy Father saw a sign of hope in the recent UN vote to declare the use of nuclear weapons as an illegal means of warfare. This vote, he reminded his audience, came as the result of a “humanitarian initiative” sponsored by many religious and civic groups.

Citing the teaching of Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, Pope Francis concluded that nuclear disarmament must be pursued as a project that can “reach men’s very souls,” and pledged the constant support of the Catholic Church for the effort to persuade world leaders of the need for disarmament.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: filioque - Nov. 12, 2017 1:30 PM ET USA

    This is all of a piece with the Pope's attack on capital punishment. He does not want societies and nations to be able to defend themselves. We have not used our nuclear weapons in 72 years and there can be no doubt that they have served as an effective deterrent, much less costly than conventional armaments. The Pope should admit that this genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to put it back. It is really a denial of original sin to think otherwise.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Nov. 11, 2017 12:27 PM ET USA

    Were we just US/Britain/France - Western Civ - we would begin the destruction tomorrow. When Russia, N.Kor., Iran share our hate, fear, detestation of oppressive war, we have no choice - or does the Pope have another answer for the right of self-defense? When a man protects his home with a sword against a robber, the neighbors down the street all plead that the shouting and noise and fighting, even self defense should stop, but when the robber is next door they have a different opinion.

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Nov. 11, 2017 2:38 AM ET USA

    But it's all right for Iran to have them according to his approval of the agreement that would allow Iran to develop them, just a little more slowly. I also thought he believed any moral absolute was a sign of "rigidity."

  • Posted by: Thomas429 - Nov. 11, 2017 12:02 AM ET USA

    Oh, yes of course lets just sing kumbaya and everything will be fine. What do you think is holding Red China, reconstituted Russia, and the massive socialist/communist hoards back? We have neither the desire or will to spend the amount of our blood and treasure that would be required to resist them with conventional warfare. I am dismayed that my adopted church is so ate up with stupidity and social justice.