Pope to New Ambassadors: Arms Trade and Forced Migration Defy Peace

Says To Talk About Peace While Permitting Proliferation of Weapons is An ‘Absurd Contradiction’

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Pope Francis discussed the challenges posed to peace by the arms trade and forced migration this morning when he received the letters of credentials of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See.

The new ambassadors to the Holy See were Pierre Yves Fux, Switzerland; Rudolf P. von Balimoos, Liberia; Nega Tsegaye Tessema, Ethiopia; Nasreldin Ahmed Wali Abdeltif, Sudan; Margaret Ann Louise Jobson, Jamaica; Claudinah Ntini Ramosepele, South Africa; and Mysore Kapanalah Lokesh, India.

In his address, the Holy Father stressed the importance of a united voice in expressing hope that the international community «may make new, concerted and courageous efforts against the proliferation of weapons and to promote their reduction.”

He said the word peace “summarises all the assets to which every person and all human societies aspire” and that the sole aim of promoting diplomatic relations is to allow peace to grow in the human family, in development and justice. «It is a target that is never fully reached, and that must be continually sought after by every generation, facing the challenges presented in every age,” he said.

“Everyone talks about peace,” he observed. “Everyone claims to want it, but unfortunately the proliferation of weapons of every type leads in the opposite direction. The arms trade has the effect of complicating and distancing us from a solution to conflicts, all the more so, since it takes place to a great extent outside the boundaries of the law.”

The Pope pointed out that the Holy See, by its nature, is “invested in a special service to the cause of peace» which can help achieve peace.

Francis then turned to another threat to peace: forced migration which, he said, “unfortunately takes on, in certain regions and in certain moments, the nature of a full-blown human tragedy.”

Calling it a very complex phenomenon, the Holy Father recognised that important efforts are being made, noting effective responses to the “most critical aspects, emergencies, and situations of greatest need”. “in a “civil”  and “organised” way,  by international organisations, States, and social bodies, as well as religious communities and volunteer groups.

However, also in this case, “we are aware that we cannot limit ourselves to reacting to emergencies. This phenomenon has fully manifested its epochal character. The moment has arrived to face it with a serious and responsible political outlook, involving all levels: global, continental, macro-regional, in relations between nations, and finally at national and local levels.»

Francis noted in relation to this problem we see examples of a contrary nature: on the one hand, “marvelous cases of humanity, of welcome, of encounter: people and families who have succeeded in leaving behind these inhuman situations and have rediscovered dignity, freedom and security.”

Unfortunately, on the other hand, he said there are stories that “make us weep for shame: human beings, our brothers and sisters, children of God who, inspired by the wish to live and work in peace, face harrowing journeys and are subjected to blackmail, torture and harassment of every kind, and at times end up dying in the desert or at the bottom of the sea.”

The phenomenon of forced migration is “closely linked to conflicts and wars, and therefore also to the problem of the proliferation of weapons.”

They are the “wounds of a world that is our world, in which God has placed us to live today, and He calls us to be responsible for our brothers and sisters, so that the violation of no human being be violated.»

It would be an “absurd contradiction,” he said, to speak about peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time promote and permit the arms trade. He continued, it could be “cynical to proclaim human rights and at the same time ignore or fail to take account of the men and women who, forced to leave their homeland, die in the attempt or are not welcomed by international solidarity.”

“The Holy See today declares to you and to the governments of your respective countries its firm resolve to continue to collaborate to take steps forward in these areas and along all the roads that lead to justice and peace, on the basis of universally recognized human rights,” the Pope concluded. (D.C.L.)

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