Pope Francis has declared while on an official visit to Japan that countries that have a nuclear weapons arsenal are engaging in immoral activity.
In remarks made on Sunday in Nagasaki, one of two cities destroyed with an atomic bomb during the Second World War, the pontiff spoke about modern nuclear weapons.
“Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction, or the threat of total annihilation,” he stated, as reported by National Public Radio.
“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons are an affront crying out to heaven.”
Francis also visited Hiroshima, site of the first atomic bomb usage in military history, on Aug. 6, 1945, by the United States in World War II.
“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral,” added Francis, according to NPR. “As is the possession of atomic weapons.”
This is not the first time that Francis has spoken out against the usage of nuclear weapons. In November 2017, the pope spoke at a Vatican-hosted conference on nuclear disarmament.
“The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned,” he stated, as reported by the Catholic Herald in 2017.
“[Nuclear weapons] exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race.”
Supporters of nuclear weapons, among them Robert Spalding of the Council on Foreign Relations, have argued that they help deter further conflict and represent fiscally responsible defense spending.
“Many who worked on the Manhattan Project believed that they had condemned the world. They could not have known that they might have liberated it. Since Aug. 9, 1945, approximately 7 million to 10 million people have died from conflict. Before the introduction of nuclear weapons, two world wars alone led to the deaths of 70 million to 100 million,” wrote Spalding in a column for The Washington Post in 2013.
“Nuclear weapons are an affordable deterrent. The cost of the triad [missile-equipped submarines, bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles] represents less than 3 percent of the $526 billion Defense Department budget. In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service lost about $16 billion, or three times the amount it cost U.S. taxpayers for intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, two-thirds of the triad.”