Pope Francis criticizes the Weapons Industry

Pope Francis has previously criticized capitalism. Does this imply that we should abandon capitalism? No. Criticism is not condemnation. Jesus criticized money, and we could say, by extension, that He was criticizing capitalism:

{16:13} No servant is able to serve two lords. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will cling to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

This verse contains a strong condemnation of anyone who idolizes money or wealth, or anyone whose life revolves around wealth. But does this imply that we should not use money, or have some concern for how to make a living? No. For in the same passage, Jesus also said:

{16:9} And so I say to you, make friends for yourself using iniquitous mammon, so that, when you will have passed away, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.
{16:10} Whoever is faithful in what is least, is also faithful in what is greater. And whoever is unjust in what is small, is also unjust in what is greater.
{16:11} So then, if you have not been faithful with iniquitous mammon, who will trust you with what is true?

Wealth (“mammon”) is associated with many sins, so it is termed “iniquitous”. Money results is unfairness, due to the great disparity between the rich and the poor. And yet Jesus says we should use money and things of monetary value to do good and to help those in need, as part of our path of salvation.

So when Pope Francis criticizes the political right or the political left on some issue, this does not imply that it is wrong to be liberal, or to be conservative. No fallen sinner and no group of fallen sinners is above criticism.

Weapons Industry

Is the weapons industry above criticism? Certainly not. But the holy Pontiff did not say, as many news outlets claimed, that persons involved in the manufacture of weapons cannot call themselves Christian. The Guardian makes this claim, as did many other new outlets. But here’s what he really said:

“If you trust only men you have lost,” he told the young people in a long commentary about war, trust and politics, after putting aside his prepared address.

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?” he said to applause.

He also criticised those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.” [The Guardian]

Can we trust our fellow human beings? Yes, to some extent we can, though sin limits the extent of our trust in others. Pope Francis is saying we must trust God more than man. And this implies that we must trust God more than the goods of this world, including weapons.

But the Pontiff did not say “those in weapons industry can’t call themselves Christian”, as the headline of the story claims. He said that people reasonably have some distrust of those who make weapons and call themselves Christian, presumably because the weapons industry is well-deserving of criticism. And the same thing applies to those who invest in the weapons industry.

He did not state any specific criticisms (as far as news reports go). But I will give a few examples. The U.S. has sold billions of dollars of weapons to Muslim nations in the Middle East, despite their hatred for the U.S., their refusal to allow Christians to worship publicly in their nations, and their oppression of women. Many weapons manufacturers are mostly interested in profits, so they do not care which nations they sell weapons to, as long as it is legal. Some companies have been found to skirt the law or violate the law in this regard also.

But recall that Jesus permitted “iniquitous mammon” to be used to do good. The Church teaches that weapons may morally be used in self-defense, in defense of the community by law enforcement officers, and in defense of the nation by soldiers. So the Pope is not saying that the manufacture of weapons is intrinsically evil, nor that Christians can never be involved in their manufacture. He was rightly criticizing the industry for its grave failings in many cases.

UPDATE: A longer excerpt of the Pope’s comments is now available. See the long quote and some commentary over at “The Truth About Guns”.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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One Response to Pope Francis criticizes the Weapons Industry

  1. talemben says:

    Reblogged this on btalemwa and commented:
    and how will this be enforced??

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