ROME — Pope Francis has called for greater restrictions on weapons worldwide, spanning the production, marketing, and possession of both heavy and light arms.
“How many cases have we seen of children dead for handling weapons in their homes, how many massacres have been perpetrated due to the easy access to them in some countries?” the pontiff asks rhetorically in a new book, an excerpt of which was published Sunday in Italian media.
“Legal or illegal, on a large scale or in supermarkets, the arms trade is a serious problem around the world,” the pope declares in the book, titled I Ask You in God’s Name: Ten Prayers for a Future of Hope.
“It would be good for these debates to have more visibility and for an international consensus to be sought to achieve, on a global level, restrictions on the production, marketing, and possession of these instruments of death,” he asserts.
In his extended critique of the arms trade, Francis lays blame on weapons manufacturers for provoking conflicts as he has done in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war.
“World spending on armaments is one of the most serious moral scandals of the present era,” he states. “It also shows how much contradiction there is between talking about peace and, at the same time, promoting or allowing the arms trade.”
“It is all the more immoral that some so-called developed countries sometimes bar their doors to people fleeing the wars they themselves have promoted by selling arms,” he insists. “It also happens here in Europe and it is a betrayal of the spirit of the founding fathers.”
“The arms race is proof of the forgetfulness that can invade us,” he says. “Or, worse still, insensitivity.”
The pope goes on to note that in 2021, “in full pandemic,” world military spending exceeded two trillion dollars for the first time, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
“For every 100 dollars spent in the world, 2.2 are destined for weapons,” Francis laments.