Pope Francis, when asked about Ukraine, says nations can buy weapons to defend themselves under the right moral conditions

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ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM KAZAKHSTAN (CNS)—Under the right moral conditions, a country has the right to buy weapons to defend itself against those who attack it, Pope Francis has said.

Speaking to reporters Sept. 15 after his three-day trip to Kazakhstan, the pope answered a question about arms sales to Ukraine, saying it can be “morally acceptable if done under the conditions of morality”.

However, “it can be immoral if done with the intention of waging more war or selling arms,” the pope said.

In what has become a tradition for the papal flight after a visit to another country, Pope Francis answered a variety of questions. He spoke of dialogue with countries at war, religious freedom in places like China and Nicaragua, and the possibility of future trips abroad.

“Defending oneself is not only lawful, it is also an expression of love for one’s country; he who does not defend something, does not like it. Instead, those who defend love.

Speaking of the arms purchase, the pope said, “Motivation is what largely qualifies the morality of this act. To defend oneself is not only lawful, it is also an expression of love towards one’s country; he who does not defend something, does not like it. Instead, those who defend love.

He also said it was important to think “now more than ever about the concept of just war”. While everyone is “talking about peace today”, there are still “so many wars going on”.

Although recent flare-ups of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia were halted thanks to Russian intervention, he noted that Russia has become “a guarantor of peace here but waging war there” in Ukraine. .

If dialogue with an aggressor is difficult, it was important to give everyone the opportunity to dialogue “because there is always the possibility that things will change through dialogue”.

When asked if there was a limit to engaging in dialogue with Russia if it persisted in its attacks, the pope said it was always “difficult to understand dialogue with states that have started the war”.

He said that even if dialogue with an abuser is difficult, it was important to give everyone the opportunity to dialogue “because there is always the possibility that things will change through dialogue”.

“I do not exclude dialogue with any kind of power that is at war, even if it is with the aggressor,” the pope said. “It may smell, but it has to be done.”

Pope Francis also addressed issues regarding religious freedom, which was among several issues he highlighted in his Sept. 14 address to the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Nevertheless, the pope said he preferred to “choose the path of dialogue.”

Journalists have asked the pope what he thinks of religious freedom in China, as well as the upcoming trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun who, along with four others, was accused of failing to properly register a fund today disappeared to help anti-government protesters. .

A longtime critic of the Chinese government, Cardinal Zen has also drawn ire from Beijing for his continued criticism of the Vatican’s controversial 2018 deal with China over the appointment of bishops.

“It’s not easy to understand the Chinese mentality, but it must be respected,” the pope said. “It is true that there are things that seem undemocratic to us. Cardinal Zen is an elderly man who will be judged these days. He says what he feels; and we see that there are limits (in Hong Kong).

Nevertheless, the pope said he preferred to “choose the path of dialogue.”

He also spoke about concerns over religious persecution in Nicaragua, including the arrest of outspoken Bishop Rolando Álvarez de Matagalpa.

“These women [Missionaries of Charity] are brave revolutionaries, but of the Gospel. They don’t make war on anyone.

The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega – which has treated the Catholic Church as a political enemy – has also arrested priests, expelled the Missionaries of Charity and the Apostolic Nuncio, and shut down Catholic media as well as educational and charitable projects.

Pope Francis said there was a “dialogue, but that does not mean that we approve of everything the government does”.

He also expressed his hope that the Missionaries of Charity would be allowed to return to Nicaragua.

“These women are brave revolutionaries, but of the Gospel. They don’t make war on anyone,” he said. Their expulsion “is an incomprehensible gesture, but we hope that they can come back and resolve (the situation). But we continue the dialogue. Never, ever stop the dialogue.

Journalists have asked Pope Francis about future papal trips.

While his knee problems have made travel “difficult”, the pope confirmed that he recently spoke with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England, and “we saw a possibility” of visiting the South Sudan and Congo in February.

In July, due to his continuing health problems, Pope Francis was forced to postpone his visit to African countries. He had hoped to go with Archbishop Welby and the Reverend Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni also confirmed that a possible visit to Bahrain in November is currently under consideration.

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