Pope to Council of Europe: 'Arms Race Is One of Greatest Curses on Human Race'

Also Condemns ‘Throwaway Culture,’ ‘Cult of Opulence,’ ‘New Slavery of Our Age’

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Pope Francis says the secret to having peace lies in how we see others, but has outlined numerous “pressing issues” that are violating peace.

Addressing the Council of Europe today, the Pope said, “The royal road to peace – and to avoiding a repetition of what occurred in the two World Wars of the last century – is to see others not as enemies to be opposed but as brothers and sisters to be embraced.” He noted how the Church can contribute to rediscovering peace for Europe.

The Holy Father said this during his second discourse of his few-hour trip to Strasbourg, France. Earlier he addressed the European Parliament. 

The Council of Europe includes 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Building peace, Pope Francis explained, “entails an ongoing process which may never be considered fully completed” and understanding that peace “is a good which must continually be attained” and “calls for constant vigilance.”

“It is not enough to contain wars, to suspend conflicts,” he said, quoting Pope Paul VI. “An imposed peace, a utilitarian and provisional peace, is not enough.”

Rather, “’progress must be made towards a peace which is loved, free and fraternal, founded, that is, on a reconciliation of hearts; in other words, to encourage processes calmly, yet with clear convictions and tenacity.’”

Violations of peace

Tragically, he said, peace continues all too often to be violated.

“This is the case in so many parts of the world where conflicts of various sorts continue to fester. It is also the case here in Europe, where tensions continue to exist. How great a toll of suffering and death is still being exacted on this continent, which yearns for peace yet so easily falls back into the temptations of the past!”

Other forms of conflict, such as religious and international terrorism, the Pontiff decried, also put peace “to the test,” through their “display[ing] deep disdain for human life and indiscriminately reap[ing] innocent victims.”

More than can be endured

Noting how unchecked weapons trafficking often “bankroll” these operations, he declared, “The Church is convinced that the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured.”

“Trafficking in human beings, the new slavery of our age,” he also criticized, “turns persons into merchandise for trade and deprives its victims of all dignity.”

The Holy Father called on those gathered to combat “these forms of inhumanity.”  

“This being said,” he stated, peace is “not merely the absence of war, conflicts and tensions.”.

In addition, the Pope warned against the “globalization of indifference” born of selfishness. “Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. We have a surfeit of unnecessary things, but we no longer have the capacity to build authentic human relationships marked by truth and mutual respect.”

Reflecting on Europe as a “bit tired and pessimistic, which feels besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents,” he said, to this continent, we can put the question: “Where is your vigor?”

The answer to this, he said, determines the future of Europe.

Urging them to see that continual creativity is needed to restore the “invigored” Europe of the past, he highlighted two challenges that must be tackled: “multipolarity” and “transversality.”

To address the issue of multipolarity, he said, requires “striving to create a constructive harmony, one free of those pretensions to power which, while appearing from a pragmatic standpoint to make things easier, end up destroying the cultural and religious distinctiveness of peoples.”

Intergenerational and intercultural dialogue are tools to combat transversality, he stressed.

Europe’s present political situation, he said, “ends up being unproductive” because there’s “merely internal dialogue” between the organizations–whether political, religious or cultural–to which one belongs.

“Our times,” he said, “demand the ability to break out of the structures which ‘contain’ our identity and to encounter others,” as Christianity exemplifies, and which, therefore, could serve as a model to Europe. “In the Christian vision, faith and reason, religion and society, are called to enlighten and support one another, and, whenever necessary, to purify one another from ideological extremes.”

Let’s cooperate

The Holy Father then brought up a number of issues on which he feels the Catholic Church, especially through the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE), and the Council of Europe, can cooperate.

First of all, he said, is the “area of ethical reflection on human rights,” especially the protection of human life.

Dealing with many sensitive issues in today’s world, he said, demands a “careful study which takes into account the truth of the entire human being,” “without being restricted to specific medical, scientific or juridic aspects.”

The 77-year-old Pontiff also stressed the need to welcome migrants, and that more than their immediate needs, they need “a recognition of their dignity as persons.”

“The grave problem of labor,” he said, must be addressed also for preserving the dignity of those without work.

Looking next at the poor, he decried, “How many of them there are in our streets!”

“They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work.”

Speaking on the “greatest resource which God has given us” and “is at our disposal not to be disfigured, exploited, and degraded,” he also said the environment, the “beloved earth,” must be protected.

Concluding his address to the Council, he expressed his hope that a new era of cooperation might begin in Europe. 

“My profound hope,” the Pope said, is “that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation, free of ideological pressures, capable of confronting a globalized world,” which at the same time “encourages that sense of solidarity and mutual charity which has been a distinctive feature of Europe.”


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-the-council-of-europe

On the NET:

On the Council of Europe: http://www.coe.int/en

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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