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World 'At the Very Edge' of Nuclear War, Warns Pope

Warning follows Pope Francis's call for nuclear weapons to be banned.

Pope Francis gives the State of the World Address to accredited ambassadors to the Holy See at the Sala Regia (Regal Room) on January 8, 2018 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis gives the State of the World Address to accredited ambassadors to the Holy See at the Sala Regia (Regal Room) on January 8, 2018 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images) 

Pope Francis on Monday warned about the increasing threat of nuclear war, saying the world is now at the brink of that catastrophe.

Speaking to press aboard the papal plane, he responded to a question about the threat by saying, “I think we are at the very edge."

"I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things," he said.

Vatican officials had distributed to the reporters a 1945 photo of a young boy carrying on his shoulders his lifeless brother, who had been killed by the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

The pope wanted to share it, he said, "because an image like this can be more moving than a thousand words."

The back of the image had four words: "The fruit of war."

A boy carries his dead brother on his shoulders while he waits at a cemetery in Nagasaki in an image taken by U.S. Marine Joe O'Donnell in 1945.

The pope's comments come a week after his "state of the world" speech, in which he welcomed the adoption last year of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and said, "nuclear weapons must be banned." The call followed numerous appeals for disarmament he made last year.  

The pontiff is currently embarking on a visit to Chile and Peru. His first stop is Chile, where he will confront growing unrest over the church's sexual abuse coverup. Several churches have been firebombed ahead of the visit, and threats against the pope have been made, including one in a pamphlet outside a torched church that read, "The next bombs will be in your cassock."

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