Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration was read today during the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna, Austria on 8 and 9 December.
“The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass-killing, more attention must be given to the 'unnecessary suffering' brought on by their use. Military codes and international law, among others, have long banned peoples from inflicting unnecessary suffering. If such suffering is banned in the waging of conventional war, then it should all the more be banned in nuclear conflict. There are those among us who are victims of these weapons; they warn us not to commit the same irreparable mistakes which have devastated populations and creation”.
He continued, “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. … Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue. Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritise such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price”.
“The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It is rooted in the Creator who makes all people members of the one human family. This desire can never be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. … Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples. Pope Paul VI stated this succinctly in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio: 'Development is the new name for peace'. It is incumbent on us to adopt concrete actions which promote peace and security, while remaining always aware of the limitation of short-sighted approaches to problems of national and international security”.
“In the context of this Conference, I wish to encourage sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states”. He emphasised, “This dialogue must be inclusive, involving international organisations, religious communities and civil society, and oriented towards the common good and not the protection of vested interests. 'A world without nuclear weapons' is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality”.