During his annual meeting with the ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, on January 8, 2018, Pope Francis expressed his wishes for countries ravaged by conflicts. Among other things, he appealed for integral disarmament and the addressing of the causes of poverty.
In the course of his long discourse, he exhorted to “work actively for peace,” deploring the fact that “grave local conflicts continue to set ablaze several regions of the earth,” where collective efforts “always seem less effective in face of the aberrant logic of war.”
The Holy Father wants the international community to work to “combat injustice and to eradicate, in a non-violent way, the causes of disagreement that lead to wars.” However, it must also work for “integral disarmament.” The proliferation of arms, in fact, “clearly aggravates the situations of conflict and entails considerable human and material costs.”
Wishing “the limitation of resources to armed force in the management of international affairs,” the Pontiff encouraged “a serene and the widest possible debate,” avoiding polarizations of the international community on such a delicate subject.” “Every effort in this regard, no matter how modest it is, represents an important result for humanity,” he assured.
Deploring “the uninterrupted production of ever more sophisticated and ‘perfected’ arms,” the Pope appealed to “support every attempt at dialogue in the Korean Peninsula, in order to find new ways to surmount the present oppositions, to enhance reciprocal trust and to assure a future of peace to the Korean people and to the whole world.”
Reconstruct Hearts in Syria
He also supported “the different peace initiatives underway in favour of Syria, so that finally an end can be put to the long conflict that affected the country and caused frightful sufferings.” “Even more than the reconstruction of buildings what is necessary is the reconstruction of hearts, the re-weaving of the fabric of mutual trust, indispensable preconditions for the fulfilment of any society,” he added.
For the “taking up again of social life, where each citizen, regardless of his ethnic and religious membership, can take part in the country’s development, the Pontiff called for the protection of “religious minorities, among which are Christians, who for centuries have contributed actively to Syria’s history.”
He also called for the creation of “conditions in view of the repatriation of refugees from Syria,” applauding “the engagement and efforts” of neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, which must continue to “be a ‘message’ of respect and coexistence as well as a model to imitate for the whole region and the entire world.”
“The will to dialogue is also necessary in beloved Iraq, so that the different ethnic and religious groups can rediscover the path of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence and collaboration, as well as in Yemen and in other parts of the region, including Afghanistan.”
Jerusalem, Sacred City for Christians, Jews and Muslims
Addressing “a particular thought to Israelis and Palestinians,” after President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Holy Father exhorted to “ponder every initiative, in order to avoid exacerbating the oppositions.”
He invited “to a common engagement to respect, in keeping with the pertinent Resolutions of the United Nations, the status of Jerusalem, sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims.”
“Seventy years of confrontations make it more urgent than ever to find a political solution that makes possible the presence in the regions of two independent States, with internationally recognized borders, “ he stressed. “Even within difficulties, the will to dialogue and to take up again negotiations remains the principal path to arrive finally at the peaceful coexistence of the two peoples. “
Pope Francis also mentioned “beloved Venezuela,” calling to “respond without delay to the primary needs of the population” and to create “the conditions so that the elections foreseen for the year underway are able to contribute a solution to the existing conflicts.”
Eradicate the Causes of Poverty in Africa
“May the international community not forget either the sufferings of numerous parts of the African Continent, especially in South Sudan, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Somalia, in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic, where the right to life is threatened by the abusive exploitation of resources, by terrorism, by the proliferation of armed groups and persistent conflicts,” lamented the Bishop of Rome.
“It’s not enough to be indignant in face of so much violence,” he stressed. “It’s necessary, rather, that each one, in his own domain, work actively to eradicate the causes of poverty and to build bridges of fraternity.”
Finally, Pope Francis recalled the situation of Ukraine, where the conflict continues “to inflict great sufferings on the population, in particular the families that reside in the areas touched by the war and that have lost dear ones, often elderly persons and children.”
The Two Warnings of the Great War
On the occasion of the centenary of the end of World War I (1918-2018), the Pontiff drew “two warnings”: “The first warning is that to win never means to humiliate the defeated adversary. Peace is not built as an affirmation of power of the victor over the vanquished . . . It’s not the law of fear that dissuades future aggressions, but rather the force of gentle reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding to smooth the differences. From this flows the second warning: peace is consolidated when Nations can deal among themselves in an atmosphere of equality.”