"We do want to engage them," he said. "We're trying to pull back some of the incendiary nature of the rhetoric. And then to have the President immediately follow that up with the 'fire and fury' comment, it makes us seem erratic. It makes us seem inconsistent," he said.
Yet, he added, "action is much more important here than rhetoric." The international sanctions, and the unanimous vote of UN Security Council members – including even Russia and China -- to impose them, were an important step to take, he said, "to induce North Korea to stop testing missiles."
Also, the actions that have not been taken are important, he said, like an overly aggressive mobilization of U.S. military forces. "You don't see our military or our navy sort of ratcheting up right now," he said.
"That's what we really need to keep our eyes on, is what is our military doing? Where are our ships going in that part of the world? What is Japan doing?" he said. "And so far I think everybody recognizes there's nothing to gain by pushing this further. What we really want to do is sit down and see if we can negotiate out of this."
Pope Francis, in an April 29 in-flight press conference during his return from Egypt, said that regarding the escalating international tensions with North Korea, "the path is the path of negotiation, the path of diplomatic solutions."
"This world war in pieces of which I've been talking about for two years, more or less, it's in pieces, but the pieces have gotten bigger, they are concentrated, they are focused on points that are already hot," he said.
"Things are already hot, as the issue of missiles in North Korea has been there for more than a year, now it seems that the thing has gotten too hot."
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told UN News this summer "general disarmament -- that is a priority this year."
"There is no doubt that the Catholic Church, Pope Francis now in particular, is very much against not only the use but also the possession of nuclear weapons," he said.
Leaders for the U.S. and European bishops also called for nuclear disarmament in a July 6 statement "Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security." Bishop Oscar Cantu, chair of the U.S. bishops' international justice and peace committee, signed the statement along with Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions.
"For many, the horror of a potential nuclear war receded from consciousness with the end of the Cold War, but recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger," the bishops stated.
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"Even a limited nuclear exchange would have devastating consequences for people and the planet. Tragically, human error or miscalculation could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe."
While the United Nations conference to negotiate the multi-lateral and legally-binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was wrapping up in July, the bishops said, the U.S. and "most European nations" were noticeably absent.
122 countries present voted in favor of the treaty, with one, the Netherlands, voting against it and Singapore abstaining, the UN reported.
"Nuclear states are making significant new investments to modernize nuclear arsenals. These costly programs will divert enormous resources from other pressing needs that build security, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," the bishops stated.
"The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence. We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons."