Pope Francis: Sale of Weapons Is ‘Biggest Plague in the World’

Pope Francis pauses during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday,
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis asserted Sunday that the sale of weapons is the “biggest plague” the world faces today.

“Violence is an everyday theme. We have just seen it in South Sudan. It is painful to see how violence is provoked,” the pontiff told reporters aboard his return flight from South Sudan to Rome, adding that a key factor is “the sale of weapons.”

“The sale of arms: I think this is the biggest plague in the world,” the pope said. “The business… the sale of arms. Someone who understands these matters told me that without selling arms for a year there would be an end to world hunger.”

“I don’t know if that’s true,” he continued. “But at the top today is the selling of arms. And not only among the great powers. Even to these poor people… they sow war with them.”

“It’s cruel. They tell them, ‘Go to war!’ and they give them weapons. Because behind it there are economic interests to exploit the land, the minerals, the wealth,” he said.

As Breitbart News reported last week, in 2007, a consortium of Chinese enterprises signed a “resource for infrastructure” accord with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which it was agreed that China would export and sell Congolese cobalt and copper and, in return, China would build a number of infrastructure projects in the Congo as well as providing “military assistance.”

The Associated Press

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, right, Pope Francis, left, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Iain Greenshields meet the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to Congo and South Sudan, Sunday, February 5, 2023. (Tiziana Fabi/Pool Photo Via AP)

Currently, “70 percent of world’s cobalt is mined in the DRC, and 80 percent of that DRC output then heads to China for processing.”

Artisanal miners carry sacks of ore at the Shabara artisanal mine near Kolwezi on October 12, 2022. - Some 20,000 people work at Shabara, in shifts of 5,000 at a time. Congo produced 72 percent of the worlds cobalt last year, according to Darton Commodities. And demand for the metal is exploding due to its use in the rechargeable batteries that power mobile phones and electric cars. But the countrys poorly regulated artisanal mines, which produce a small but not-negligeable percentage of its total output, have tarnished the image of Congolese cobalt. (Photo by Junior KANNAH / AFP) (Photo by JUNIOR KANNAH/AFP via Getty Images)

Miners carry sacks of ore at the Shabara artisanal mine near Kolwezi, DRC, on October 12, 2022. (JUNIOR KANNAH/AFP via Getty Images)

In his comments Sunday, Francis also said that external factors do not explain all of Congo’s problems.

“It is true that tribalism in Africa does not help. Now I don’t really know how it is in South Sudan. I think it is there too,” he said. “But there needs to be dialogue between the different tribes.”

“But it is also true that you provoke the fight between tribes by selling arms and then you exploit the war of both tribes,” he added. “This is diabolical. I cannot think of another word.”

“To sum up, I think the biggest problem is the eagerness to take that country’s wealth — cobalt, lithium, these sorts of things — and through war, for which they sell weapons, they also exploit children,” he said.


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