The Vatican

Silence the guns! The Pope's latest cry from Iraq

The interreligious meeting that took place in the plain of Ur, witnessed the Pope's exclamation, calling to silence the noise of weapons, and to strive for a better distribution of food.

Giovanni Tridente-March 6, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes
pope iraq

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The increasing proliferation of weapons gives way to the distribution of food for all." A task entrusted "to us". We heard it in the attractive speech that Pope Francis delivered at the interreligious meeting in the plain of Ur as a stop on his Apostolic Journey to Iraq, the 33rd of his pontificate and also the most difficult.

It is certainly not the first time that the Bishop of Rome exclaims against this practice that sows death and destruction everywhere, threatens peace, fraternity and the very well-being of populations, certainly of the most defenseless, taking away resources even from the basic need for food.

The day before, as soon as he landed in Baghdad, at the meeting with the country's authorities and civil society, the Pope was even more categorical: "Let the weapons be silenced, let their proliferation be prevented, here and everywhere."

Not just in Iraq and the Middle East, but everywhere.

Waste of valuable resources

It is no coincidence that already on September 25 last year, in a video message to the United Nations Assembly, Pope Francis invited us to reflect on whether it might not be time to rethink the waste of "precious resources" represented by the "arms race, including nuclear weapons" in order to use them instead "for the benefit of the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment".

World Hunger Fund

The following month, speaking at World Food Day, in a message to FAO he urged the "courageous decision" to use the money spent on weapons for the establishment of a "world fund" aimed at curbing "hunger once and for all and helping the development of the poorest countries".

This is certainly not a new idea of Pope Francis. St. Paul VI, in his 1967 social encyclical Populorum Progressio, had already proposed a similar "solution," which, however, more than fifty years later remains, unfortunately, a dead letter.

Perhaps this is also the reason for the insistence with which - having reached a point of no return - it is necessary to talk about it. And the current Pontiff did so also in the last encyclical Fratelli tutti, where he explains that eliminating hunger and bringing development to the poorest countries allows people not to "abandon their countries in search of a more dignified life", as well as reducing deception and violence.

Bread and no weapons

This concept was reiterated again earlier this year in the Message for the World Day of Peace, considering also the need to guarantee the health needs of all peoples, even more so in the pandemic situation affecting humanity.

We are approaching Easter and precisely in the homily of the Holy Night Vigil a year ago we find symbolically yet another appeal by the Pope to stop "the production and trade of arms, because we need bread and not guns".

In fact, "this is not the time to continue manufacturing and selling weapons, spending large sums of money that could be used to take care of people and save lives," he would later reiterate in the Urbi et orbi Message the following morning, the day of the Lord's Resurrection.

This is not the time: not more than fifty years ago (Paul VI), not a year ago and not even today. Silence your weapons! And let us put an end to hunger in the world. The last cry of Pope Francis from Iraq.

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