Pope Francis has conveyed to the United Nations his “strong support for the rapid adoption of steps that would lead to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.”
He also called for “the reduction of the world’s reliance on armed force in the conduct of international affairs,” according to a statement to the UN General Assembly in New York, read by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. The statement was read on October 14, 2014, but just published today.
In his first address to this Committee, the Archbishop, who was appointed to his post by Pope Francis this past July, said that the Pope “pleads for the non-proliferation of arms and for the disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament.”
The Vatican acknowledged what it called “progress” over the past year “in the elimination of chemical weapons,” but referred to reports of the continued use of chemical weapons, including chlorine gas, and urged the international community “to redouble its efforts to eliminate once and for all chemical weapons and any use as a weapon of dual-use chemicals.”
The Vatican united itself to the “deep frustration” experienced by the international community “at the lack of speedy progress on nuclear disarmament, and of the inhuman and immoral consequences of the use of weapons of mass destruction.” It also found “troubling” the inability of the nuclear-weapon states to begin negotiations toward further reductions in their existing stockpiles, while it called the increase of weapons stockpiles “even more troubling.”
“The Holy See,” said the statement, “continues to believe that a policy of permanent nuclear deterrence jeopardizes the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation” and urges this Committee “to focus on the need to move beyond nuclear deterrence, and work toward the establishment of lasting peace founded on mutual trust, rather than a state of mere non-belligerence founded on the logic of mutual destruction.”
This recent Vatican address echoes a similar statement delivered last year at the 68th UN General Assembly. That statement, read by Archbishop Francis Chullikat, said: “The international community must appeal and act with one voice to ban all weapons of mass destruction.”