Pope Francis said the Cold War-era policy of nuclear deterrence is no longer viable and that the mere possession of nuclear weapons is now “irrational.”
Flying through Asia en route home from Bangladesh Saturday, Francis said: “We’re at the limit of licitly having and using nuclear arms. Why? Because today, such sophisticated nuclear arsenals risk destroying humanity or at least a great part of it.”
Amid increasingly heated rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea, Francis told a nuclear disarmament conference last month that mere possession of nuclear weapons was to be condemned, given the risks, and that the only viable path forward was total disarmament.
Francis said he wanted to pose the question as a pope: “Today, is it legitimate to keep nuclear arsenals as they are? Or to save creation, to save humanity today, isn’t it necessary to go back?”
Pope Francis also defended his public silence in Myanmar over the plight of Rohingya refugees, saying a public denunciation would have “slammed the door in the face” of his hosts and prevented his overall message from being heard.
Francis said Saturday he chose instead to speak in general terms about human rights in public so that he could speak more frankly in private.
He said he was “very, very satisfied” that his message had been received in his private meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s powerful military chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
He also said: “It’s true I didn’t have the pleasure of slamming the door in their face publicly with a denunciation. But I had the satisfaction of dialogue, and letting the other side dialogue, and in this way the message arrived.”