Vatican Reacts to Trump’s ‘Rocket Man’ Speech, No Place for ‘Military Superiority,’ ‘Unilateralism’

In a strongly worded address before the United Nations Wednesday, a Vatican spokesman denounced President Trump’s threats against North Korea as “deplorable.”

Speaking in New York at the 10th Conference for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, noted that the rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program “are of special urgency,” while sharply criticizing President Trump’s handling of the situation.

“The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations,” Gallagher said. “The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

The Archbishop went on to say that building up a strong military—one or Mr. Trump’s stated priorities—is counterproductive and hearkens back to a Cold War mentality.

“We must put behind us the nuclear threats, fear, military superiority, ideology, and unilateralism that drive proliferation and modernization efforts and are so reminiscent of the logic of the Cold War,” Gallagher said, in evident reference to the American President.

During his speech before the U.N. Tuesday, Mr. Trump reserved particularly potent language for his treatment of the leaders of North Korea.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” Trump said. “It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.”

The President went on to say that “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.”

In the phrase that seemed to catch the Vatican’s attention, Trump warned that the U.S. has the military means and the will to bring North Korea down, if need be.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.”

The President also praised the U.S. military build-up, another point that seemed to trigger the reaction from the Vatican.

While listing a series of recent U.S. achievements, Trump said “it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.”

“Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been,” he said.

In his address Wednesday, Archbishop Gallagher denounced this approach, proposing instead international diplomacy aimed at achieving a “climate of trust” among nations.

“The peace-of-a-sort that is based on a balance of power, with threats and counter-threats, and ultimately fear, is an unstable and false peace,” Gallagher said.

“In order to respond adequately to the challenges of the twenty-first century, it is essential to replace a logic of fear and mistrust with an ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust which values multilateral dialogue through consistent and responsible cooperation between all the members of the international community,” he said.

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