As a thinktank in the UK suggested that Britain's armed forces are likely to be cut by up to a quarter, Pope Benedict XVI has urged a decrease in military spending across the world, saying the resources would be much better spent on the poor.
The Royal United Services Institute in the UK predicted today (13th January) that the defence budget would be cut by more than 15 per cent over the next five years.
It comes after peace groups in the UK also urged churches to push for a reallocation of military spending.
The Pope took up the theme on Monday when he delivered his traditional New Year address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
Pope Benedict said: "Among the many challenges...one of the most serious is increased military spending and the cost of maintaining and developing nuclear arsenals. Enormous resources are being consumed for these purposes, when they could be spent on the development of peoples, especially those who are poorest."
He also expressed his hope that a conference in May on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will bring "concrete decisions" for "progressive disarmament, with a view to freeing our planet from nuclear arms."
The Pope highlighted how arms production and trade perpetuated violence, most notably in Somalia and Congo.
But the Holy Father also criticised the general public for indifference.
"Together with the inability of the parties directly involved to step back from the spiral of violence and pain spawned by these conflicts, there is the apparent powerlessness of other countries and the international organisations to restore peace, to say nothing of the indifference, amounting practically to resignation, of public opinion worldwide," he said. "There is no need to insist on the extent to which such conflicts damage and degrade the environment."