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Pope Francis Calls for Global Reflection on Peace, Disarmament, and Warfare
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Pope Francis has sent a powerful message to participants of an International Conference organized by the Academy of Social Sciences and the Peace Research Institute Oslo, commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the landmark encyclical, Pacem in Terris, by Pope St. John XXIII. In his message, Pope Francis highlighted the pressing need for a renewed commitment to peace in a world marked by conflicts, including the threat of nuclear warfare.
Photo credit: The New York Public Library
The Pope's message underscores the unsettling reality that the world is currently grappling with what he referred to as a "third world war fought piecemeal." He drew attention to the tragic situation in Ukraine, where the threat of nuclear weapons looms over the ongoing conflict. This perilous context draws eerie parallels to the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, which brought the world perilously close to nuclear annihilation.
Pope Francis urged the conference participants to reflect on the teachings of Pacem in Terris, particularly its insights on disarmament and the pathways to enduring peace. He called for a deep analysis of contemporary military threats, including those arising from advanced technology, and emphasized the necessity of ethical contemplation regarding the grave risks posed by the continued possession of nuclear weapons.
The Pope reiterated his long-standing conviction, initially expressed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 2019, that the use of atomic energy for warfare purposes is immoral. He emphatically stated that the possession of nuclear weapons is also immoral. He emphasized that a world free of nuclear arms is both possible and imperative for global peace.
While nuclear disarmament remains a paramount concern, Pope Francis cautioned against overlooking the use of so-called "conventional" weapons in modern warfare. He stressed that even these arms should only be employed for defensive purposes and never directed at civilian targets. The Pope invoked the St. Petersburg Declaration, which condemns the foreseeable infliction of "superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering" in warfare.
Pope Francis invoked the words of his predecessor, St. John XXIII, who, at the end of Pacem in Terris, prayed for the world's peoples to embrace one another as brothers and sisters. He earnestly hoped that the longing for peace may flourish and reign among all nations through divine inspiration and the power of unity.
In a world riddled with conflicts and the looming specter of nuclear devastation, Pope Francis's message serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for concerted efforts to pursue disarmament, ethical warfare, and global peace. The teachings of Pacem in Terris continue to resonate as a guiding light towards a more harmonious and secure world.
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