Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 22, 2001
Vatican predicts greater disasters to come
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
UNITED NATIONS — A Vatican statement delivered at the United Nations Oct. 15 said a world trend toward "more arms and more poverty" is leading toward "disasters even greater than what we endured on 11 September."
Archbishop Renato Martino, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, said "this distressing time must teach us that violence and war are not inevitable."
"The basic requirements for the peace we seek (are) the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the curbing of the arms trade and the eradication of massive, endemic poverty," he said.
"We have no choice if humanity is to survive."
Addressing a committee of the UN General Assembly dealing with disarmament, the nuncio noted that "we meet in a time of profound distress" because "the evil of terrorism has struck in unimaginable ways."
"The response of the world community to this act of terrorism demands leadership of the highest order," he said.
Martino said as the first response "those responsible must be apprehended and brought to justice through due process."
However, he warned that "this must be done in a way that does not expose even more innocent civilians to death and destruction."
"Violence on top of violence will only lead to more violence," he said. "This is a time for wisdom and perseverance. Justice, not vengeance, must be our goal."
The archbishop said a failure to deal with the causes of violence would "do a disservice to those who have died in this tragedy."
In all the various causes, a common denominator is a hate that amounts to "hatred of humanity itself" and "kills even the one who hates," he said.
But he said this hatred must be overcome by dealing with the factors that produce it, not by "acts of revenge."
Breeding grounds for the hatred exploited by terrorists include poverty, lack of respect for human rights, intolerable refugee situations and physical or psychological oppression, Martino said.
"In searching out the root causes of terrorism, we are in no way condoning terrorism," he said. "But any serious crime reduction effort cannot be confined only to intensified police work."
Martino said "the growing gap between the rich and the poor" was "a threat to the stability of the planet."
"A continuation of the unjust status quo will inevitably continue fueling conflicts and will lead to even more conflicts in the decades ahead," he said.
Turning to the question of arms control, the nuncio said the "almost limitless quantities of small arms and light weapons" are responsible for killing some 10,000 people per week, mostly civilians.
The UN conference on small arms this past July made some progress, but was limited because its agreements were not binding and in any case dealt only with illegal aspects of the arms race, he said.
"Most illicit weapons originate in the legal export market before being diverted," he said.
Martino also expressed regret that "another setback" came in the failure of efforts during the past year to strengthen the UN Biological Weapons Convention.
"Combatting the dangers of terrorist use of deadly organisms requires more credible international institutions of arms control than the present ones," he insisted.
Regarding nuclear weapons, the nuncio reminded the General Assembly committee that the Vatican repeatedly had called for implementation of the nonproliferation treaty, and had itself ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty earlier this year.
He called for a change in the mentality of those who possess nuclear weapons and "claim that they are essential to security."
"Now is the time to dispel this claim and to declare that the continued possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is endangering all humanity, and that they must be abolished," he said.
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