Vatican News
Pope Francis meeting members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on May 2, 2019. Pope Francis meeting members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on May 2, 2019.   (ANSA)

Pope concerned over growing threat of "conflictual nationalism", nuclear war

Pope Francis addressed some 50 members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who are discussing the theme, “Nation, State, Nation-State”, during their plenary assembly, May 1-3.

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Thursday expressed concern over the re-emergence of aggressive feelings against foreigners, especially immigrants, as well as a growing nationalism that neglects the common good, saying such trends compromise international cooperation, mutual respect and the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.  

Speaking to some 50 members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Holy Father also expressed fears over the growing threat of nuclear confrontation that risks cancelling the progress of the recent past and multiplies the risk of war.

The Pope spoke to the Pontifical Academy in the light of its May 1-3 plenary assembly on “Nation, State, Nation-State”, in the backdrop of a growing trend in exclusivist nationalism.

Migration and conflictual nationalism

The Pope pointed out that the Church has always urged the love of one’s own people and country while respecting the various cultures, customs and habits of other peoples.  At the same time it has warned against deviations in this attachment that result in excluding and hating others when it becomes “conflictual nationalism that raises walls, even racism or anti-Semitism.”

He noted that, too often, states are subservient to the interests of a dominant group, mostly for reasons of economic profit, which oppresses the ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities who are in their territory.

On the contrary, the Pope pointed out, “the way in which a nation welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and its relationship with humanity.”

He urged that a person or a family, forced to leave their own land, be welcomed with humanity.  In this regard he repeated his 4-verb formula of how to receive a migrant, namely: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.  

While stressing that the migrant is not a threat to the culture, customs and values of the host nation, the migrant also has a duty to integrate into the receiving nation, enriching the host while maintaining his identity.

Pope Francis pointed out that migration is a permanent feature of human history, and all nations are the result of the integration of successive waves of people or groups of migrants, who while being images of the diversity of humanity, are united by common values, cultural resources and healthy customs.

“A state that arouses the nationalistic feelings of its own people against other nations or groups of people would fail in its mission,” he warned, adding history proves where such deviations lead to.


Speaking about the nation-state, the Pope said it cannot be regarded as absolute and an island in relation to its surroundings and on its own; it cannot provide its people with the common good and meet the great contemporary challenges of climate change, new slavery and peace.

The cooperative vision among nations, the Pope said, requires the relaunching of multilateralism, which is opposed to new nationalistic impulses and hegemonic policy.

“Humanity would thus avoid the threat of recourse to armed conflicts whenever a dispute arises between nation-states, as well as evading the danger of economic and ideological colonization of the superpowers, avoiding the overwhelming of the strongest over the weakest, paying attention to the global dimension without losing sight of the local, national and regional dimensions.”

As opposed to a globalization that levels differences and suffocates localization and leads to the re-emergence of nationalism and hegemonic imperialism, the Pope called for a "multifaceted" form of globalization based on mutual recognition between the collective identity of each people, nation and globalization itself, which leads to a general state of peace and harmony.

The multilateral bodies, the Pope said, have been created in the hope of being able to replace the logic of revenge, domination, oppression and conflict with that of dialogue, mediation, compromise, harmony and the awareness of belonging to the same humanity in the common home.

On the other hand, the growing hegemony of powers and interest groups that impose their own visions and ideas, as well as new forms of ideological colonization, often disregarding the identity, customs and habits, dignity and sensitivity of the peoples concerned. The emergence of such tendencies is weakening the multilateral system, with the result of a lack of credibility in international politics and a progressive marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations.

Nuclear threat

Pope Francis lamented that today the season of multilateral nuclear disarmament seems outdated and no longer stirs the political conscience of nations that possess atomic weapons. On the contrary, he said, a new season of worrying nuclear confrontation seems to be opening, because it cancels the progress of the recent past and multiplies the risk of war.  If the offensive and defensive nuclear arms will now be placed on earth and space, the Pope warned, the so-called new technical frontier will have raised and not lowered the danger of a nuclear holocaust.

The Pope concluded urging the members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to help him spread the awareness of a renewed international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common good, respect for the planet and the supreme good of peace.

02 May 2019, 16:28