Pope Francis condemned the use of nuclear weapons in favor of a “culture of life and peace” in a message released Tuesday.
“I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral,” the pontiff wrote to Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, president of the First Meeting of States Parties, regarding the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror,’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote. “Possession leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.”
States parties to the TPNW are gathering in Vienna, Austria, June 21-23 to “commit to concrete actions to implement obligations under the Treaty,” which envisions a world without nuclear weapons, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
“The Holy See has no doubt that a world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible,” Pope Francis added. “In a system of collective security, there is no place for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Pope Francis identified the treaty’s “courageous vision” as “ever more timely,” adding that “we need to remain aware of the dangers of short-sighted approaches to national and international security and the risks of proliferation.”
“As we know all too well, the price for not doing so is inevitably paid by the number of innocent lives taken and measured in terms of carnage and destruction,” he said.
He urged that disarmament treaties are not only legal obligations but also “moral commitments.”
Peace, Pope Francis said, is “indivisible,” and to be just and lasting, it must also be “universal.”
“It is deceptive and self-defeating reasoning to think that the security and peace of some is disconnected from the collective security and peace of others,” he said.
He emphasized the Catholic Church’s role.
“For its part, the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting peace between peoples and nations and fostering education for peace throughout its institutions,” the pope’s statement says. “This is a duty to which the Church feels bound before God and every man and woman in our world.”
Pope Francis called on people to be responsible for maintaining peace, both on a public level and a personal level. It is a legal discussion as well as an ethical discussion, he said. He added that this treaty recognizes that education for peace can play an important role in teaching current and future generations.
The statement also paid homage to the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to all victims of nuclear-arms testing.
Pope Francis closed by encouraging representatives, international organizations, and all of civil society to continue to promote “a culture of life and peace based upon the dignity of the human person and the awareness that we are all brothers and sisters.”
Pope Francis has expressed concern about nuclear weapons in the past. More recently, in the context of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the pope said that the image of Noah’s flood is “gaining ground in our subconscious” as the world considers the possibility of a nuclear war “that will extinguish us.”
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