A file photo shows U.S. military personnel working on an F/A-18E Super Hornet as an aircraft carrier conducts drills in the South China Sea. CNS photo/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gabriel A. Martinez, U.S. Navy, ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

Editorial: Now, more than ever

  • July 16, 2020

Over the years, we have heard the pleas of popes and Vatican officials to halt the worldwide production of weapons. In virtually every case, the urgency of the plea has been punctuated by the preface: “Now, more than ever ….”

Never has that been more true.

Gripped by a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people, the world has a common enemy that must be defeated. Guns and bombs won’t do it, and their use in conflicts around the globe only hinder the massive humanitarian efforts needed to subdue COVID-19.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for nations of the world to shift from national security by military means to human security as the primary concern of policy and international relations,” Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told reporters July 7.

“Now is the time to build a world that better reflects a truly integral approach to peace, human development and ecology.”

His declaration was made on behalf of the commission set up by Pope Francis in April to address the challenges of the virus which has spawned not just death and sickness, but violence and racism, whether directly or indirectly.

The commission has noted that worldwide spending on the military hit $1.9 trillion last year, 300 times the budget of the World Health Organization, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Imagine what that money could do for medical research or health care or the environment or education or poverty.

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, another member of Turkson’s commission, asks some simple questions: “What are citizens asking for right now? Do they need a strong military state, or a state that invests in common goods? How would every citizen want their money to be spent today? Does it make sense to continue to make massive investments in weapons if human lives cannot be saved because there is no adequate health care system?”

The answers are obvious, yet so difficult to achieve.

It is heartening to note that this push to divert military spending is not happening in isolation. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on July 1 calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” around the globe in an effort to focus all efforts on humanitarian and medical efforts against COVID-19.

Pope Francis wholeheartedly has endorsed the resolution, adding a prayerful wish that this united front against the virus “might bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of a single human family.”

We have seen glimpses of what that world could look like, in the efforts of frontline workers and ordinary folks doing what they can to help the vulnerable. Weapons have no part to play in that world, which is why this call for disarmament is important … now more than ever.

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As long as the church remains a patriarchal institution, we are fostering war, not peace. Now, more than ever, it is time to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Luis Gutierrez
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