Pope Francis: We’ve reached an ethical limit to nuclear weapons

Vatican City, Dec 2, 2017 / 04:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Aboard his flight from Bangladesh to Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis said that the destructive potential of nuclear weapons is so great that humanity has reached the limit of morally possessing them or using them as deterrents.

“In the nuclear field…today we are at the limit,” the Pope said Dec. 2. “This can be a matter for discussion, it’s my opinion, but I am convinced of my opinion: we are at the limit of liceity to have and use nuclear arms.”

The Pope’s comments were made during an in-flight press conference during his return flight from an apostolic trip to Burma, also known as Myanmar, and Bangladesh from Nov. 27-Dec. 2.

Asked if something has changed since the time of the Cold War, when many world leaders considered nuclear weapons a useful and ethically acceptable deterrent to war, Francis stated that he thinks the rationality of the claim has changed.

He also noted that the number of nuclear arms continues to grow, becoming more sophisticated and more powerful, and those factors change the consideration.

“I ask myself this question,” he said, “Today, is it licit to maintain the arsenal of nuclear weapons as they are? Or today, to save creation, to save humanity, is it not necessary to go backward?”

The Pope’s words aboard the papal flight echoed a statement made in a message to United Nations members last March, when he said that while eliminating nuclear weapons may be a challenge, there is still a “moral and humanitarian imperative” to do so.

He also expressed skepticism that nuclear deterrence is “an effective response” to the world’s security challenges, echoing decades of previous statements by the Holy See on the perilous potential of nuclear weaponry.

Francis most recently spoke on the topic during an address to participants in a Vatican symposium on nuclear disarmament Nov. 10, stating his hope for the elimination of nuclear arms, and pointing to an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, which was passed by the UN in July, as a positive step.

The Holy See actively took part in the treaty negotiations, and is among the three nations that have ratified the treaty.

The Holy See has a “Permanent Observer” status at the UN, although with “enhanced powers.” That means that the Holy See can take part in the negotiations of treaties, but does not usually have the right to vote.

For the July 7 vote on the nuclear treaty, the Holy See was allowed to participate in negotiations as a full member, and was permitted to vote on the matter before the adoption of the treaty, showing the strength of the Holy See’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.

This was the first time the Holy See has been afforded such a status at the UN, which Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s “foreign minister,” described as a milestone during the treaty ratification ceremony Sep. 20.


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  1. But Popes should do the hard work also. They should publically state that therefore good nations need to submit to bad nations and be ruled by bad nations who keep nuclear arms.
    Get specific Francis. South Korea should surrender iself to North Korea and Chrstianity will vanish in that region and souls will likely increase in time for damnation. I find Pope Francis’ promise to help the Rohingya similarly an odd public relations promise when he hasn’t helped over a hundred pro choice Catholic congressmen to repent…hasn’t helped multiple Catholic colleges reduce their sizable hook up rates ( see Newman Society site)….hasn’t helped five Catholic nations to exit the top ten murder rate countries. Modernity is a storm of facile idealism and public virtue signaling. We need a Pope who shuts up and works on admin of Catholic real problems by working the phone 8 hours a day to regional Cardinals who must get back to him next week by phone or facetime with what they’ve accomplished against e.g. the three areas I just mentioned. But that will never happen because signs of it are not remotely present anywhere. All is media…virtue signaling….talk….but brief talk on nuclear arms otherwise you’d have to admit that the darkest nuclear nations…Hindu, Muslim, and NK…would rule the world in time and suppress Christianity. Watch Church nuclear talk going forward. It will brief….virtue signaling….and minus the surrenders to evil cultures over time…untruthful in other words.

  2. It may have escaped the Pope’s notice but there are only a small fraction of the number of nuclear weapons now compared to what there were in 1985. There are few more nations that possess them but the total number is way, way down.

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