January 22, 2021, is an important date for humanity. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (CTBT)which some fifty countries of the United Nations had ratified last October, finally comes into force. It is the first legally binding agreement prohibiting the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of nuclear weapons. It is no coincidence that the signatory countries do not include the traditional major nuclear powers, so the road to real and effective disarmament has only just begun.
An immoral act
In November 2019, from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, it was Pope Francis who condemned without "appeal" the use of atomic energy for war purposes, an act that is totally "immoral"that threatens the freedom of populationsdenies peace and causes so much suffering.
"No more wars, no more noise of weapons, no more suffering.", was the Pontiff's cry, reiterating how this approach is ultimately "a crime, not only against man and his dignity, but also against any possibility of a future in our common home.".
One of the Pope's first interventions along the lines of the appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons was dated July 2014, with a message addressed to the president of the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention, in which he called for putting "thehe human person, women and men, girls and boys, at the center of our disarmament efforts.."
A few months later, in December, writing to the chairman of the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, he denounced the "waste of resourcesHe concluded with the wish that "it would be more appropriate to spend on integral human development, education, health and the fight against poverty. He concluded with the wish that "nuclear weapons should be banned once and for all".
He made a repeated appeal in his visit to the UN in September 2015, and in other messages to the same UN Conference in 2017, 2019 and 2020, in several Angelus from the window of St. Peter's Square, in meetings with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, in the Plenaries of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and in recent Messages for the World Day of Peace.
Disarmament at Fratelli tutti
All these concerns were summed up in n. 262 of the last letter encyclical Fratelli tuttiwhere it is clearly explained - showing precisely the interconnection and complexity of all the events that characterize the current era - that the option of disarmament is functional for "...".to eliminate hunger once and for all and for the development of the poorest countries, so that their inhabitants do not resort to violent or deceitful solutions and are not forced to leave their countries in search of a more dignified life.".
Celebrating the importance of this day, last Wednesday, at the end of the general audience, the Holy Father encouraged the States to courageously undertake the path of disarmament, thus contributing to "to the advancement of peace and multilateral cooperation, which mankind needs so much today.".
Several personalities of the Catholic Church, presidents of bishops' conferences of various countries of the world, bishops of important dioceses, as well as religious and lay people, have signed a joint declaration for the occasion, collected by the international Catholic movement for peace. Pax Christi, expressing their satisfaction with the important initial objective achieved by the United Nations and urging those governments that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty.
The gift of peace
"We believe that God's gift of peace acts to discourage war and overcome violence."They write in the document, which significantly has as its first signatory the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
On the part of the Holy See, in an interview granted to Vatican News, the Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Richard Gallagheracknowledging that it is a "cornerstone"and that there is still a long way to go, he invited "avoid forms of reciprocal recrimination and polarization that hinder dialogue instead of favoring it.".
Rather, because as humankind we have the capacity, in addition to freedom and intelligence, to "drive the technology", of "setting limits to our power"and to commit all efforts to progress".more humane, social and integral".