Pope Francis declares ‘No to war.’ Is anyone listening?
“We are living at a crucial moment for humanity, in which peace seems to give way to war. Conflicts are growing, and stability is increasingly put at risk. We are experiencing a third world war fought piecemeal, which, as time passes, seems to become ever more widespread,” warned Pope Francis to members of the United Nations Security Council during their recent meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Due to the Holy Father’s post-surgical recovery at the time of the Security Council’s meeting, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, read the Holy Father’s dynamic message, which went on to say, “As a man of faith I believe that peace is God’s dream for humanity. Yet sadly I note that because of war, this wonderful dream is becoming changed into a nightmare.”
In highly critical language to weapon producing corporations, and thus to the individuals who comprise them, and those who hold stock in them, Pope Francis says, “From the economic point of view, war is often more enticing than peace, inasmuch as it promotes profit, but always for a few and at the expense of the wellbeing of entire populations. The money earned from arms sales is thus money soiled with innocent blood” (see Pope Francis’ powerful video illustrating this hellish reality https://bit.ly/3CaoOgp).
With inspiringly prophetic language the Holy Father attempts to move us to a morally higher way of thinking and acting. He says, “It takes more courage to renounce easy profits for the sake of keeping peace than to sell ever more sophisticated and powerful weapons. It takes more courage to seek peace than to wage war. It takes more courage to promote encounter than confrontation, to sit at the negotiating table than to continue hostilities.”
And his powerful language continues, “In order to make peace a reality, we must move away from the logic of the legitimacy of war: If this were valid in earlier times, when wars were more limited in scope, in our own day, with nuclear weapons and those of mass destruction, the battlefield has become practically unlimited, and the effects potentially catastrophic.”
And thus, Pope Francis declares in his ordinary magisterium as the leader of the Catholic Church: “The time has come to say an emphatic ‘no’ to war, to state that wars are not just, but only peace is just – a stable and lasting peace, built not on the precarious balance of deterrence, but on the fraternity that unites us.”
With these words of the supreme pontiff, it can be credibly argued that the Catholic Church is being directed to understand that the “just-war theory” – if it ever had any moral legitimacy, and that’s a big “if” – cannot in anyway claim today that it morally reflects Gospel-based truth. If we take this teaching by Pope Francis seriously – and indeed we should – this is monumental. It deserves serious study, discussion and prayer in our churches, schools, universities, corporations and halls of government.
Pope Francis adds, “Where will we end up if everyone thinks of themselves? So those who strive to build peace must promote fraternity.
Building peace is a craft that requires passion and patience, experience and farsightedness, tenacity and dedication, dialogue and diplomacy. And listening as well: listening to the cries of those who are suffering because of wars, especially the children. Their tear-stained eyes judge us: the future we prepare for them will be the court of our present choices.”
Please reflectively read the Holy Father’s full address to the U.N. Security Council, and prayerfully discern what the Holy Spirt is calling you to do (see: https://bit.ly/3pEoCEi).
Pope Francis places both the hope, and the challenge, before us: “Peace is possible if it is truly desired!
”Do we truly desire it?
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at email@example.com.