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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Pope Francis makes a call for peace

Pope Decries Arms Industry Profits for Pulling 'Puppet Strings of War'

JON QUEALLY for Common Dreams

Pope Francis condemned the global arms industry for its role in the ongoing slaughter in the Gaza Strip and called for peace worldwide during his Christmas blessing from Vatican City on Monday, mourning the children killed and displaced by war, which he called the "little Jesuses of today," in occupied Palestine and elsewhere.

Citing conflicts across the globe in his annual Urbi et Orbi ("To the City and World") message, the Pope told his Catholic followers that war is "an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly" and that "saying 'no' to war means saying 'no' to weaponry" provided to humanity by the global arms industry.

"The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them," he warned. "And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales, and trade are on the rise?"

Francis compared the global expenditures on weapons—which according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reached upwards of $2.2 trillion last year—with the failure of governments to fund social goods like efforts to fight hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

"People, who desire not weapons but bread, who struggle to make ends meet and desire only peace, have no idea how many public funds are being spent on arms," the Pope said. "Yet that is something they ought to know! It should be talked about and written about, so as to bring to light the interests and the profits that move the puppet strings of war."

Last week, Common Dreams reported on a new analysis by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) that highlighted the numerous companies, including large weapons makers, reaping massive profits from Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza.

In his blessing on Monday, Pope Francis said his "heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October" as he called for the remaining hostages held by Hamas and other militants in Gaza to be released. He also backed the global call for a cease-fire and urged immediate humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza.

"I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid," said the Pope.

"May there be an end to the fueling of violence and hatred. And may the Palestinian question come to be resolved through sincere and persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community."

"Brothers and sisters," he said, "let us pray for peace in Palestine and in Israel."