Pope Tells World’s Top Arms Dealers to End Arms Trade

I lack patience. I admit it.

There’s my confession.

I couldn’t sit through the Pope’s slow and plodding and polite speech to Congress, waiting for him to say something against the primary thing that body does and spends our money on. But finally he got there:

“Being at the service of dialogue and peace,” he said, “also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

No, he didn’t list the wars that must be ended or the bases that must be closed or the resources that Congress itself must stop investing in militarism. But he told the world’s top arms dealers to end the arms dealing.

Perhaps they heard his words as a mandate to end the arms trade by everyone other than the United States, since the United States of course only sells and gives away weapons for the sake of peace and progress. But the Pope explicitly rejected those justifications.

Perhaps, instead, Congress members heard a condemnation of the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, which is using them to slaughter innocents. Perhaps they heard a warning not to promise $45 billion in new free weapons to Israel. Perhaps they heard a verbal slap in the face to a body that often debates the violence of the Middle East without acknowledging that the majority of the weapons of war in the region originate in the United States. Perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry, whose hand the Pope shook on his way to the podium, heard a suggestion to transform the State Department into something other than a marketing firm for weaponry.

Perhaps in combination with the Pope’s comments on aiding refugees some listeners heard the responsibility of those fueling the violence to address the results, and to cease making matters worse.

Perhaps they even heard the shout of honesty in the line: “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

We do all know that, don’t we? But we’re told that it’s good for the world for weapons to be shipped to dozens of nasty governments. It’s for a balance of power. It’s for U.S. jobs distributed across unnecessarily large numbers of Congressional districts. It’s to counter terrorism with greater terrorism.

The Pope brushed aside such logic and spoke the truth. Weapons of war — which are sold and shipped by the United States far more than any other nation — are sold for profit. They encourage, initiate, escalate, elongate, and exacerbate wars for profit.

But in the end, I’m not sure such a remark was hearable by members of Congress. I’m not sure they weren’t secretly thinking of something else. Because they gave those lines in the Pope’s speech a standing ovation.

Did they mean it? Will the U.S. corporate media ask them if they meant it, if they’ll act on it? Of course not, but perhaps we can.

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  • davidgary1

    Amen, I doubt these comments will be focused on at all but rather brushed under the carpet. It was clear that Pope Francis was referring to the American arms that end up in Isis hands.

  • diogenes

    According to the text of the speech at InformationClearingHouse.info the text of the speech included this passage after its twelfth paragraph, which Pope Francis omitted in delivering it:

    [Editor’s Note:The following section, which was in the prepared remarks, was not included in the speech.] Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.

    It is discouraging to think that parties unknown managed to prevail upon Francis to omit this key passage, which touches the heart of the matter. His illustrious predecessor, Pope Pius XI, shows more courage in his encyclical addressing this same subject in considerably greater and more scathing detail — After Forty Years (Quadregesimo Anno, 1931).

    When he got to the passage comparing the “work” of the US Congress and Moses for a second I wondered if he was going to say that their works resemble each others’ because both put Israel first. But no, what was I thinking?