Pope Francis: Military Disarmament Is a ‘Moral Obligation’

Swiss Guard in their barracks

ROME — Pope Francis said Sunday that military disarmament is not optional but constitutes a “moral obligation” for all nations.

Following his weekly Angelus address in Saint Peter’s Square, the pontiff recalled that March 5 marks the second International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness.

“How many resources are wasted on military expenditure, which, because of the current situation, sadly continues to increase!” he told the estimated 20,000 tourists and pilgrims gathered in the square.

A recruit takes his oath during the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard during a ceremony on May 6, 2023 in The Vatican. (STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

He went on to express his hope that “the international community will understand that disarmament is first and foremost a duty, and that disarmament is a moral obligation.”

“Let’s get this into our heads,” he added. “And this requires the courage of all members of the great family of nations to move from a balance of fear to a balance of trust.”

In the past, the pope has suggested that if people are really serious about world peace, the solution is to “ban all weapons.”

For decades, the Catholic church has criticized the arms race and consequent build-up of nuclear arsenals, but Francis is the pope to call for the banning of all weapons. If he were to be taken at his word, this would imply outlawing everything from rifles to hand grenades to the halberds carried by the Pontifical Swiss Guards in the Vatican.

Pope Francis leaves past Swiss guards at the end of a private audience with Senegal's President Macky Sall at the Vatican, on November 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO POOL / ANDREW MEDICHINI (Photo by ANDREW MEDICHINI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MEDICHINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pope Francis passes his own Pontifical Swiss Guard at the end of an audience with Senegal’s President Macky Sall at the Vatican, on November 18, 2014.  (ANDREW MEDICHINI/POOL/AFP via Getty)

The existence of weapons leads humanity to live “in fear of war,” the pope declared, and the only way to remove this fear is to eliminate all weapons.

Francis is also the only pope to ever declare that not only the use of nuclear weapons, but also their mere possession “is immoral.”

“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” the pope stated in 2022.


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