Pope calls for demilitarisation in peace message

By staff writers
12 Dec 2007

Pope Benedict XVI has called for increased efforts from international leaders toward nuclear disarmament.

His message, ahead of the 41st World Day of Peace (1 Jan 2008), was released yesterday.

In it he criticised those involved in the ongoing arms race and highlighted the profit being made by those involved in the manufacture and production of weapons.

Britain is amongst those states to have recently committed to renewing its nuclear weapons.

"Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future" the pontiff said.

"Vast areas of the world are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person.

"Many civil wars are still being fought in Africa, even though a number of countries there have made progress on the road to freedom and democracy. The Middle East is still a theatre of conflict and violence, which also affects neighbouring nations and regions and risks drawing them into the spiral of violence.

"On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race: even some developing nations allot a significant portion of their scant domestic product to the purchase of weapons.

"The responsibility for this baneful commerce is not limited: the countries of the industrially developed world profit immensely from the sale of arms, while the ruling oligarchies in many poor countries wish to reinforce their stronghold by acquiring ever more sophisticated weaponry.

"In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms. At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I am echoing the desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity" he said.

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