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Pope calls for global elimination of nuclear weapons

Pop Francis speaking at the Vatican this week (CNS)

Pope Francis has called on world leaders, activists and people of faith to work together to rid the world of the threat of nuclear weapons.

Hoping for the global elimination of nuclear weapons the Pope said peace is not just a balance of power, “but true justice”.

Nuclear nations should move beyond the mere ideal of the abolition of atomic weapons stressed in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons and take the next steps toward meeting that objective.

“The humanitarian consequences are predictable and planetary,” the Pope said in a statement, read by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent representative to UN agencies in Geneva, at the opening of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons on Monday.

Pope Francis said that more attention should be given to the unnecessary suffering that would result from the use of nuclear weapons. He encouraged open dialogue between nuclear and non-nuclear states, with the inclusion of religious communities and civil society.

There are currently 17,000 nuclear bombs worldwide in a high-alert status, far fewer than the 70,000 weapons that were combat-ready at the end of the Cold War. But this 85 percent reduction risks creating a false sense of security. Warning of such complacency the Pope encouraged participants of the conference to remind the world of the risks of nations possessing any nuclear weapons.

“I’m convinced the desire for peace will bear fruit in concrete ways,” Pope Francis said, adding that it was his hope that “a world without nuclear weapons is possible”.