Pope Francis harshly criticized “weapons manufacturers” in a speech he made on Sunday during a trip to the Italian city of Turin. According to Reuters, Pope Francis made an appearance in front of thousands of young people and spoke at length on subjects such as the Holocaust and Armenian genocide, although he did not specifically refer the latter event as a genocide. The Pope also mentioned the “duplicity” of “weapon” makers and businessmen who advocate for peace while producing guns and other arms.
“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he told the crowd.
While the statement does not come as a surprise to those familiar with Pope Francis, it remains his most unambiguous criticism of the arms industry so far. For years the Vatican has been pushing for limits on “weapons of war” (tanks, bombs, and military aircraft) and small arms. In a 2000 statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops titled “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, And Restoration,” church leaders in America also voiced their support for gun control.
“As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer—especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner—and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns,” read the publication.
Due to the Catholic Church’s vast global community (roughly 1.2 billion people), opinions on gun control within the group remain mixed. Church leaders have also previously acknowledged the right of nations and individuals in protecting themselves from harm.
In his speech on Sunday, Pope Francis also criticized the “great powers” of the world for failing to stop human rights violations such as the internment of thousands of Christians in Russian concentration camps under the rule of Joesph Stalin.
“Everything is done for money,” he said.