In an off-the-cuff encounter with young people in Turin over the weekend, Pope Francis took weapons manufacturers to task, suggesting that Christians should have no involvement with the weapons industry.
Francis said that it is “hypocritical to speak of peace and manufacture weapons,” before running through a short recap of the conflicts of the last century and atrocities such as the Shoah and the Armenian genocide.
The Pope chastised “people, executives, entrepreneurs who call themselves Christians, and manufacture weapons,” saying that this sort of hypocrisy “generates mistrust.”
Even beyond manufacture, however, Francis suggested that even owning stock in companies producing arms is immoral.
Dramatizing a conversation, Francis said, “‘No, no, Father, I don’t manufacture, no, no. … I just have my savings, my investments in weapons factories.’ Ah! And why? ‘Because the return is a bit higher.’”
“And this duplicity is common today: say one thing and do another. Hypocrisy,” he said.
“But can I have confidence in such a life? Can I trust world leaders? When I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he will not lead my country to war?” he asked.
Curiously, in the same conversation, the Pope criticized the inaction of the “great powers” during the Second World War for failing to bomb the railways leading to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them? Self-interest!” he asserted.
Presumably, the bombs in question would not have been manufactured by Christians.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.