Upon receiving the credentials of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See, Pope Francis urged the diplomats to work for peace, particularly by the eradication of the arms trade and forced migration due to conflict.
“It would be an absurd contradiction to speak about peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time promote and permit the arms trade,” the Pope told the new ambassadors in his May 15 address.
Pope Francis directed his words to Pierre Yves Fux of Switzerland, Rudolf P. von Balimoos of Liberia, Nega Tsegaye Tessema of Ethiopia, Nasreldin Ahmed Wali Abdeltif of Sudan, Margaret Ann Louise Jobson of Jamaica, Claudinah Ntini Ramosepele of South Africa and Mysore Kapanalah Lokesh of India upon the official presentation of their letters of accreditation.
In his speech to the diplomats the pontiff observed how the word peace “summarizes all the assets to which every person and all human societies aspire,” and that “It is a target that is never fully reached, and that must be continually sought after by every generation, facing the challenges presented in every age.”
“Everyone talks about peace” and “everyone claims to want it,” the pontiff observed, but “the proliferation of weapons of every type leads in the opposite direction.”
Noting how the arms trade both complicates and distances us from finding solutions to conflicts, especially because “it takes place to a great extent outside the boundaries of the law,” the Pope expressed his hope that they would be able to join together in the effort to fighting the exchange.
“We can unite our voices in expressing hope that the international community may make new, concerted and courageous efforts against the proliferation of weapons and to promote their reduction,” he said.
Pointing out another challenge which often prevents the construction of peace, the Roman Pontiff lamented the trend of forced migration, which “unfortunately takes on, in certain regions and in certain moments, the nature of a full-blown human tragedy.”
Acknowledging the complexity of the issue and giving recognition to efforts which are already being made by the international community, Pope Francis cautioned that “we cannot limit ourselves to reacting to emergencies.”
“The moment has arrived” to face this growing phenomenon “with a serious and responsible political outlook, involving all levels” he said, “global, continental, macro-regional, in relations between nations, and finally at national and local levels.”
Drawing attention to the “marvelous cases of humanity, of welcome, of encounter” where “people and families have succeeded in leaving behind these inhuman situations and have rediscovered dignity, freedom and security,” the Roman Pontiff explained that there are still other cases “that make us weep for shame.”
“Human beings, our brothers and sisters, children of God who, inspired by the wish to live and work in peace, face harrowing journeys and are subjected to blackmail, torture and harassment of every kind, and at times end up dying in the desert or at the bottom of the sea.”
This issue, he continued, is “closely linked to conflicts and wars, and therefore also to the problem of the proliferation of weapons.”
Referring to these topics as “the wounds of a world that is our world, in which God has placed us to live today,” the Pope reminded the ambassadors how God “calls us to be responsible for our brothers and sisters.”
“We could also consider it to be in a certain sense cynical to proclaim human rights and at the same time ignore or fail to take account of the men and women who, forced to leave their homeland, die in the attempt or are not welcomed by international solidarity,” he said.
Bringing his comments to a close, Pope Francis assured the new ambassadors and their countries of the Holy See’s “firm resolve” to continue collaboration in taking “steps forward in these areas and along all the roads that lead to justice and peace, on the basis of universally recognized human rights.”