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Pope to diplomats: World peace depends on right to life, disarmament

“The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced” and “nuclear weapons must be banned,” particularly given the risk that a nuclear conflagration could be started by accident, Pope Francis said, quoting St. John XXIII’s encyclical on peace, “Pacem in Terris.”

“In this regard, it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world,” Pope Francis said.

Fostering dialogue is also of primary importance for Israelis and Palestinians “in the wake of the tensions of recent weeks,” he said, apparently referring to demonstrations that took place after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pope Francis had said such a move would further destabilize the Middle East.

In his speech to diplomats, the pope repeated the Vatican’s long-standing position that any policy change in the Holy Land must “be carefully weighed so as to avoid exacerbating hostilities” and should respect the “the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.”

“Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognized borders,” the pope said. “Despite the difficulties, a willingness to engage in dialogue and to resume negotiations remains the clearest way to achieving at last a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples.”

In a list of world conflicts of concern, the pope also pointed to the need to support “the various peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria.”

“The time for rebuilding has now come,” he said, which includes, not just rebuilding destroyed cities, but rebuilding hearts and “the fabric of mutual trust, which is the essential prerequisite for the flourishing of any society.”

“There is a need, then, to promote the legal, political and security conditions” for each citizen and to protect all religious minorities, including Christians, he said.

“The right to freedom of thought, conscience and of religion, including the freedom to change religion,” must be upheld around the globe, the pope said.

Instead, “it is well-known that the right to religious freedom is often disregarded, and not infrequently religion becomes either an occasion for the ideological justification of new forms of extremism or a pretext for the social marginalization of believers, if not their downright persecution,” he said.

Turning from events unfolding on the world stage, the pope drew attention to the daily reality of families, urging countries to support the bedrock of all stable, creative societies: “that faithful and indissoluble communion of love that joins man and woman” in marriage.





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