Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Pope Francis called for nuclear disarmament at a Vatican summit on Friday, a week after an emotional anti-war speech at a military cemetery in Italy. (Photo: Republic of Korea/Flickr/cc)

Pope Denounces 'Mentality of Fear' Caused by Nuclear Regimes, Urges Disarmament

At a seminar at the Vatican, Pope Francis praised the U.N.'s recent anti-nuclear weapons treaty

Julia Conley

At a Vatican seminar attended by Nobel Peace Prize winners, United Nations officials, and representatives from countries with nuclear capabilities, Pope Francis urged leaders to move towards nuclear disarmament on Friday.

The pontiff's speech came a week after he made a plea for an end to "useless massacres" in an anti-war speech at a military cemetery in Italy, in which he alluded to the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, exacerbated in recent months by President Donald Trump's bellicose threats in response to Kim Jong-un's nuclear tests.

Pope Francis argued that the insistence on maintaining nuclear arsenals by nations including the United States, North Korea, and France "creates nothing but a false sense of security," and therefore total disarmament is the only acceptable solution.

Nuclear weapons, he said, "exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race. International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms."

"Weapons that result in the destruction of the human race are senseless even from a tactical standpoint," added the pope.

Pope Francis also expressed "gratitude and appreciation" for the U.N.'s recent treaty calling for an elimination of nuclear weapons. The agreement was adopted in July, but all the nuclear states abstained from voting. So far, three parties have ratified the treaty.

The seminar signified a shift in the Catholic Church's tolerance of the existence of nuclear programs. Bishops in the U.S. expressed a "strictly conditional moral acceptance of deterrence" but the Pope's recent remarks indicate that the conditions may now call for a policy change.

"The church's tolerance of deterrence was predicated on it being a step toward disarmament," said Stephen Colecchi, director of the U.S. bishops' conference's Office of International Justice and Peace, in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter. Today, regimes are "planning modernization of nuclear weapons. You don't modernize a weapons system that you intend to disarm from. So I think deterrence is on very thin moral grounds."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

90+ Groups Warn 'Kids Online Safety Act' Could Have 'Damaging' Effects

"Congress needs to pass real laws that rein in the abuses of Big Tech and protect everyone's privacy and human rights rather than using kids as pawns to advance poorly drafted legislation in order to score political points," said one critic.

Jessica Corbett ·


Inspired by Starbucks Organizing Wins, Peet's Coffee Workers File for Union Elections

"We deserve a say in how our workplace is run and we deserve to be fairly compensated for the value we create," said one Peet's employee.

Jake Johnson ·


Rev. Barber Breaks Down Why Democrats Must Engage With Low-Wealth Voters

In future elections, said the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, Democrats must "focus clearly and intensely on poor and low-wealth voters who tend to, when they vote, vote progressive if they're targeted."

Julia Conley ·


Great Barrier Reef Belongs on World Heritage 'In Danger' List: UNESCO

"The path to saving the Great Barrier Reef is narrow, but it exists," said one observer. "Strong and rapid action can produce results."

Kenny Stancil ·


Because 'Publishing Is Not a Crime,' Major Newspapers Push US to Drop Assange Charges

"This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America's First Amendment and the freedom of the press," The Guardian, The New York Times, and other media outlets warned.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo