Pope Francis’ Remarks on Munitions Manufacturers [Akin]

On June 21, 2015, Pope Francis made some impromptu remarks regarding munitions manufacturers.

He made these remarks in the course of a meeting with young people in the Italian city of Turin.

The Italian original of this encounter is online here.

At the time of this posting, an official English translation is not available.

I would like to thank Fr. Stephanos Pedrano, O.S.B. of Prince of Peace Abbey for providing the following, unofficial translation:

PASTORAL VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO TURIN

ENCOUNTER WITH CHILDREN AND YOUTH

DISCOURSE OF THE HOLY FATHER

Piazza Vittorio

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Translator’s Note. There are two items on this page.* The first seems to be the Pope’s spontaneous remarks, casual in language, and lacking the “finish” of a prepared text.* The second item on this page is actually entitled “Prepared Discourse of the Holy Father.”* At this event, it seems that three persons— Chiara, Sara, and Luigi— spoke publicly before the Pope.* In the course of his words some parts appear in quotation marks.* My guess is that some of those parts are quotations of things the three earlier speakers said.* So it seems to me that the Pope must have had a printed copy of their speeches.*]

[Jimmy’s Note: I agree with Fr. Pedrano that some of the remarks in quotation marks appear to be things previously said by the young person Sara. The pope seems to be either quoting or paraphrasing her. I have put the items that seem likely to be by her in red type, below. The identification of these remarks is mine.]

FIRST ITEM:*

The Pope begins]:

Thank-you to Chiara, Sara and Luigi.* Thank-you because the questions are on the theme of the three words of the Gospel of John that we heard:* love, life, friends.

SECOND ITEM:

Several paragraphs later]:

And thank-you, Sara, a lover of theater.* Thank-you.* “I think of the words of Jesus:* to give one’s life.”* We just spoke of this.* “We often feel a sense of distrust in life.”* Yes, because there are situations that make us think:* “But, is it worth the trouble to live life this way?* What can I expect to get from this life?”* We think, in this world, about wars.* At times I have said that we are living through the third world war, but by pieces.* Pieces:* in Europe there’s war, in Africa there’s war, in the Middle East there’s war, in other countries there’s war.* But can I put my trust in a life like that?* Can I trust world leaders?* I, when I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he won’t take my country to war?* If you trust only in men, you are lost!* This makes me think of something:* people, leaders, businessmen who say they are Christians, and they manufacture weapons!* This brings up some distrust:* they say they are Christians!* “No, no, Father, I don’t manufacture, no, no….* I only have my savings, my investments in the weapons factories.”* Ah!* And why?* “Because the interest rates are a little higher….”* And even being two-faced is hard cash, today:* to say one thing and to make of it something else.* Hypocrisy….* But let’s take a look at what happened in the last century:* in 1914, 1915, in 1915 exactly.* There was that great tragedy of Armenia.* So many died.* I don’t know the number:* more than a million certainly.* But where were the great powers of the day?* They were watching from elsewhere.* Why?* Because they were interested in the war:* their war!* And those who die, they’re second-class persons, human beings.* Then, in the thirties and forties, the tragedy of the Shoah Holocaust].* The great powers had the photographs of the railway lines that bore the trains to the concentrations camps, like Auschwitz, to kill Jews, and also Christians, also Gypsies, also homosexuals, to kill them in that place.* But tell me, why didn’t they bomb it?* Interest!* And a little later, almost at the same time, there were the prison camps in Russia:* Stalin….* How many Christians suffered, were killed!* The great powers divided Europe among themselves like a pie.* So many years had to pass before arriving at a kind of “freedom.”* There is that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and manufacturing weapons, and then even of selling the weapons to this one who’s at war with that one, and to that one who’s at war with this one!

There are several more paragraphs of the Pope’s words on the page before the item entitled, **“Prepared Discourse of the Holy Father.”]

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jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/weapons-300x225.jpgRecently Pope Francis made some impromptu remarks about weapons manufacturers at a meeting with young people in Turin.

These were poorly misreported in the press and have resulted in a number of questions being asked.

First we will take a look at what he said and then look at some of the questions that have been asked.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

1) Where can I read the pope’s remarks in their entirety?

The Italian original is here.

At present, there is no official English translation, but Fr. Stephanos Pedrano, O.S.B. of Prince of Peace Abbey kindly provided me with an unofficial one of the part of his remarks dealing with weapons manufacturers.

You can read it here.

2) What did Pope Francis say?

In the relevant section of his remarks, Pope Francis begins by interacting with previous remarks made by a young woman named Sara.

He appears to be quoting or paraphrasing things Sara said, as indicated by quotation marks in the Italian original.

Here is the beginning of the remarks, with the apparent quotations from Sara in red:

And thank-you, Sara, a lover of theater.* Thank-you.

“I think of the words of Jesus:* to give one’s life.”*

We just spoke of this.

“We often feel a sense of distrust in life.”*

Yes, because there are situations that make us think:

“But, is it worth the trouble to live life this way?* What can I expect to get from this life?”*

At this point, Pope Francis begins to reflect on the subject of wars.

3) What does he say about wars?

Initially, he says:

We think, in this world, about wars.

At times I have said that we are living through the third world war, but by pieces.* Pieces:* in Europe there’s war, in Africa there’s war, in the Middle East there’s war, in other countries there’s war.

But can I put my trust in a life like that?* Can I trust world leaders?* I, when I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he won’t take my country to war?

If you trust only in men, you are lost!

At this point, Pope Francis makes his remarks concerning weapons manufacturing.

4) What does he say about weapons manufacturing?

In this section, Pope Francis interacts with an imaginary interlocutor who has investments in munitions, as indicated by quotation marks in the Italian original. He says:

This makes me think of something:* people, leaders, businessmen who say they are Christians, and they manufacture weapons!* This brings up some distrust:* they say they are Christians!

“No, no, Father, I don’t manufacture, no, no….* I only have my savings, my investments in the weapons factories.”

Ah!* And why?

“Because the interest rates are a little higher….”

And even being two-faced is hard cash, today:* to say one thing and to make of it something else.* Hypocrisy….

Having introduced the theme of hypocrisy in connection with war, Pope Francis then looks at three historical incidents in which political powers failed to intervene in the face of aggression taking place in the world.

5) What are the three incidents?

The first example is that of the Armenian genocide. He says:

But let’s take a look at what happened in the last century:* in 1914, 1915, in 1915 exactly.* There was that great tragedy of Armenia.* So many died.* I don’t know the number:* more than a million certainly.

But where were the great powers of the day?* They were watching from elsewhere.

Why?* Because they were interested in the war:* their war!

And those who die, they’re second-class persons, human beings.

The second example is that of the German Holocaust during World War II:

Then, in the thirties and forties, the tragedy of the Shoah Holocaust].

The great powers had the photographs of the railway lines that bore the trains to the concentrations camps, like Auschwitz, to kill Jews, and also Christians, also Gypsies, also homosexuals, to kill them in that place.

But tell me, why didn’t they bomb it?* Interest!

The third example is that of Stalinist Russia:

And a little later, almost at the same time, there were the prison camps in Russia:* Stalin….* How many Christians suffered, were killed!

The great powers divided Europe among themselves like a pie.* So many years had to pass before arriving at a kind of “freedom.”

Pope Francis then makes a concluding remark on hypocrisy and weapons manufacturing.

6) What is his concluding remark?

He says:

There is that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and manufacturing weapons, and then even of selling the weapons to this one who’s at war with that one, and to that one who’s at war with this one!

After this, Pope Francis goes on to discuss matters other than war and weapons manufacturing.

7) How would you summarize Pope Francis’s remarks thus far?

The general sense of the pope’s remarks seems to be as follows:

In response to a young woman’s question about what we can expect from life, Pope Francis indicates that there are problems in the world and that we cannot simply put our trust in political leaders. They will let us down.

They may take our countries into war, even when they have said they will not. In fact, there are many wars taking place in the world today.

They may also look the other way in conflicts, for reasons of their own self-interest. This is shown by multiple examples from recent history where world powers self-interestedly looked the other way and failed to take action to stop immense oppression and murder.

Politicians may speak of peace, but they are often hypocritical in these ways. The same hypocrisy can manifest among people who—for reasons of financial gain—invest in weapons manufacturing without any concern about how those weapons will be used, as when they invest in arms makers who sell weapons to both sides in a conflict.

8) Did Pope Francis say that Christians can’t own a gun, such as for personal defense or for hunting?

He said nothing like this. Not even close.

His remarks are connected with war and the arms trade.

9) Did Pope Francis say that the use or manufacture of weapons is always wrong?

No, he didn’t say this, either.

In fact, he implied otherwise when he indicated that the Allies should have bombed the train lines to the Nazi concentration camps where the Holocaust was carried out.

Further, the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges the just war doctrine, according to which warfare is legitimate in some circumstances.

As to weapons manufacturing, if weapons have legitimate uses, they have to come from somewhere.

If Pope Francis wanted the Allies to bomb Nazi-controlled train lines, he certainly expected them to get the bombs from somewhere, and in a world where people are willing to commit atrocities like the three he named, he would recognize the need the arms needed to resist such aggression.

10) Why didn’t Pope Francis say all that?

Presumably, for several reasons:

a) He was speaking impromptu.

b) The legitimate use of force could be inferred from his comments, as above.

c) He would expect his remarks to be understood in light of the established teaching of the Church. As he himself has said, “I am a son of the Church.”

d) Pope Francis has, on prior occasions, been open to use of force to stop “unjust aggression”, though he has cautioned against this becoming an excuse for unnecessary destruction or conquest.

e) He expects his remarks to be taken with what Benedict XVI referred to as “that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding:” (Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, “Foreword”).

There is no credible reading of Pope Francis’s remarks that would make them an absolute prohibition on the use or manufacture of weapons.

11) What was he criticizing, then, in reference to people investing in munitions?

The hypocritical attitude of pretending to be for peace but by one’s actions displaying an indifference to the illegitimate use of weapons and warfare.

This is what unites both politicians who turn a blind eye to aggression and people who distance themselves from the manufacture of weapons (“No, no, Father, I don’t manufacture”) even though they invest in this for personal profit (“Because the interest rates are a little higher”) without concern for the moral dimension of arms sales, such as when a manufacturer amorally sells to both sides of a conflict (“then even of selling the weapons to this one who’s at war with that one, and to that one who’s at war with this one”).

This in no way means that the design, manufacture, or sale of arms cannot be legitimate—as it would be in the case of supplying the Allies bombs to use against Nazi-controlled rail lines or to oppose other forms of unjust aggression.

12) Did Pope Francis say that people act hypocritically in this way aren’t Christians?

No. Pope Francis knows that a baptized person who professes the Christian faith *is *a Christian, even if he behaves immorally.

The pope did not say that such people aren’t Christians. He remarked ironically, “They say they are Christians!”

This is a way of indicating a course of conduct that is inconsistent with Christian faith or morals. It doesn’t mean that a person isn’t a Christian, but that he is acting in a way that he shouldn’t act as a Christian.

One could make the same ironic remark about any Christian who is doing things he shouldn’t.

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Geez, its pretty sad when we need to have others ‘interpret’ what our Pope says…God forbid he say anything that offends any industries or greedy companies, in our world today,there many industries we would be better off without! LOL, but imo what he said was probably correct, major arms manufacturers are in the business of killing, war, and conflict is good, its great for business,but in todays PC world, someone like the Pope cant even say anything negative about ANY industry or something that would shine a negative light…PLEASE, this is ridiculous.

I dont have anything against people who desire to keep a personal gun, or even carry one in public, but I seriously doubt we need HUGE factories from multiple brands, cranking out as many weapons as they possibly can 24/7…there is absolutely no need for this. Its getting bad when backpedaling is necessary, so they make 100% sure they do not offend anyone or any industry, or shine a negative light on any certain industries…Plus, if I was a great speaker, I could probably convince life long christians, the porn industry is good and all those people involved are decent people, its all about how you ‘spin’ the words, (just kidding about the porn industry), but making a point that nearly any industry can be ‘spun’ into a great thing, depending on the ‘interpreter’.

In my opinion, the real problem is people wanting anything and everything they are involved in, to be justified and acceptable, no matter how bad it may be, probably has alot to do with greed too, companies start making huge money, they create lots of jobs, etc. even though their industry may not be a good thing for the human race, they still desire to justify what they are doing by any means.

Why is it so often necessary to have commentary to explain/excuse the Pope’s remarks and to explain that the Church’s actual teaching is actually quite different from those remarks? I have long refused to criticize this Pope and have instead been critical of the professional Francis critics. However, Francis is losing credibility as a teacher. Perhaps he sees outreach rather than teaching to be his charism.

Well, he’s not losing credibility with me or with a lot of people–only, i think, with people who confuse right-wing politics with Christian orthodoxy.

What he said about arms manufacturing and dealing seems obvious to me. I think it’s silly that it was controversial.

Edwin

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