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A dove flies at a ceremony marking the atomic bombing of Nagasaki A dove flies at a ceremony marking the atomic bombing of Nagasaki  (AFP or licensors)

Pope Francis urges nations to eliminate nuclear weapons

Pope Francis expresses support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which comes into force on Friday.

By Devin Watkins

Speaking at his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis appealed for all nations to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.

His appeal came two days ahead of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

The accord is the first legally binding international agreement to prohibit signatory states from developing, testing, producing, stockpiling, stationing, transferring, and using or threatening to use nuclear arms.

Devastating effects

Referring to their indiscriminate impact, Pope Francis said nuclear weapons “strike large numbers of people in a short space of time and provoke long-lasting damage to the environment.”

He also encouraged all States and people to “work with determination to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear arms”.

The best way to do this, added the Pope, is by “contributing to the advancement of peace and multilateral cooperation, which humanity greatly needs.”

Vatican ratification

The Vatican became the first state to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, signed it at the UN Headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017, the first day it was open for signatures.

It reached the required 50 signatures in late October 2020, and comes into force on 22 January 2021.

20 January 2021, 10:50