Did the Pope Really Say That People Who Make Weapons Can’t Be Christians?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: The Pope said seemed to be talking about “arms dealers” in the discredited old “Merchants of Death” political sense, but he did keep saying “weapons manufacturers” and making comments questioning whether such a person should call himself Christian without hypocrisy.

(There’s no official English version of this statement yet, and frankly I expect a bit of fact-checking notes, because the Pope was obviously just talking way off the cuff. I also don’t understand the various “interesse” expressions that the Pope used, and which may not actually translate as “profit.” Google Translate can’t make me fluent.

He was talking off the cuff because it was an “encounter” meeting with young adults, where he was supposed to respond with a prepared speech to various short speeches by young people chosen to represent what all young people are supposedly feeling. Instead he went off with a much longer response that was off the cuff, and then later he remembered to read his speech. There were a lot of good things said about the need for young people to love chastely and to remember that love entails service to others, not just getting.)

Anyway, a girl named Sara said that Jesus is about life, and sometimes young people mistrust life. Here’s the part of the Pope’s unprepared response that dealt with this:

“….there are situations that make us think: “But is it worth living like this? What can I expect from this life?” We think, “In this world, there are wars.” Sometimes I have said that we are living the Third World War, but in pieces. In parts of Europe there is war, there is war in Africa, in the Middle East there is war, in other countries there is war.

“”But can I have confidence in such a life? Can I trust world leaders? When I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he will not lead my country to war?” If you trust only in men, you are lost!

It makes me think of one thing: people, executives, entrepreneurs who call themselves Christians, and are manufacturing weapons! It gives one a little distrust if they call themselves Christians!

“No, no, Father, I do not make weapons, no, no … Only I have my savings, my investments in weapons factories.”

Ah! And why?

“Because the profit is a bit higher …”.

And the double-sided coin is current today: say one thing and do another. The hypocrisy …

But let’s see what has happened in the last century: in ’14, ’15, in ’15 properly. There was the great tragedy of Armenia. Many died. I do not know the figure: more than a million certainly. But where were the great powers of that time? They looked the other way. Why? Because they were profited in the war: their war! And those who die are people — second-class human beings. Then, in the Thirties, the Forties – the tragedy of the Holocaust. The Great Powers had photographs of the railway lines taking trains to concentration camps such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians including the Roma, including homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why not have bombed that? The profit! And a little ‘later, almost simultaneously, there were concentration camps in Russia: Stalin … How many Christians have suffered, have been killed!

The Great Powers divided Europe like a cake. Many years had to pass before you get to a “certain” freedom. It is hypocrisy to speak of peace and manufacture weapons, and even sell weapons to this group that is at war with that, and that group at war with this!”

And then there’s some more stuff about various worldly things people do, such as treating money as an idol and putting their trust in worldly powers, and then he goes back on track some more.

So yeah, it’s pretty obvious that the Pope wasn’t a history major, and that he needs to stop watching History Channel and start watching “Junk Currently Being Pulled by China and Russia,” although the Armenian Genocide is obviously a timely subject.

Here’s the applicable section of the prepared speech:

In light of this transformation, the fruit of love, we can answer the second question, the lack of confidence in life. The lack of jobs and prospects for the future certainly helps to curb the movement of life itself, putting many on the defensive thinking to themselves, manage time and resources according to their own good, to limit the risk of any generosity … I all symptoms of a life retained, preserved at all costs and that, in the end, can also lead to resignation and cynicism. Jesus teaches us instead to go the opposite way: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9:24). This means that we should not wait for external circumstances favorable to putting ourselves in the game, but that, on the contrary, only by engaging life – aware of losing it! – We create for others and for us the conditions of a new confidence in the future. And here my thoughts naturally turn to a young man who has really spent so his life, becoming a model of trust and evangelical boldness to the young generation in Italy and the world: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Its motto was: “To live, not just get along.” This is the way to experience fully the strength and the joy of the gospel. So not only you end up confidence in the future, but able to generate hope among your friends and in the environments in which you live.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was referenced in both the Pope’s prepared and ex tempore remarks, because he was from Turin. Frassati died young, but lived a full life of both charitable giving and political involvement. While never looking for a fight, he wasn’t afraid to give one when attacked:

“Participating in a Church-organized demonstration in Rome, he withstood police violence and rallied the other young people by grabbing the banner which the police had knocked out of someone else’s hands. He held it even higher while using the pole to ward off their blows. When the demonstrators were arrested by the police, he refused special treatment that he might have received because of his father’s political position, preferring to stay with his friends.

“One night a group of Fascists broke into his family’s home to attack him and his father. Pier Giorgio beat them off singlehandedly, chasing them down the street calling them, “Blackguards! Cowards!”

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