Pope says supplying Ukraine with weapons is morally acceptable for self-defense

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On the papal plane (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Thursday it was morally legitimate for countries to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from Russian aggression.

Speaking to reporters on a plane back from a three-day trip to Kazakhstan, Francis also urged Kyiv to eventually open up to dialogue, even though it might “smell” as it would be difficult on the Ukrainian side.

The war in Ukraine, which Russia invaded on February 24, provided the backdrop for the Pope’s visit to Kazakhstan, where he attended a conference of religious leaders from around the world. Read more

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In a 45-minute press conference, a reporter asked if it was morally appropriate for countries to send weapons to Ukraine.

“This is a political decision that can be both morally and morally acceptable if made under moral conditions,” Francis said.

He explained the Roman Catholic Church’s “just war” principles, which allow for the proportionate use of lethal weapons for self-defense against an aggressor nation.

“Self-defense is not only legitimate, but is an expression of patriotism. Whoever does not defend himself and does not defend something he does not like. Whoever defends (something) loves him,” he said.

Pope Francis answers reporters’ questions during a conference aboard the papal plane as he returns to Rome after visiting Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 15, 2022. Alessandro de Meo/Paul via Reuters

Francis explained the difference between when supplying another country with arms is moral or immoral:

“It would be unethical if the intent was to provoke more war or sell weapons or offload weapons that (a country) no longer needs. The motive is what very much qualifies the ethics of this work,” he said.

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The Pope, who sat for the second time on an international flight during the press conference instead of standing due to a lingering knee disease, was asked whether Ukraine should negotiate with the country that invaded it and if there was a “red line” Ukraine should draw, depending on Russian activities, and then Can refuse to negotiate.

“It is always difficult to understand dialogue with countries that have started a war,” he said. “This is difficult, but it should not be ruled out.”

“I would not rule out dialogue with any power at war even if it is with the aggressor…Sometimes you have to have a dialogue like this. It smells but it has to be done,” he said.

The Pope used the Italian word “puzza” (smell or stink), which is the English equivalent of “stick your nose” to describe doing something one would rather not do.

“(Dialogue) is always a step forward, always an outstretched hand. Otherwise we close the only reasonable door to peace,” Francis said.

“Sometimes they (the aggressors) do not accept dialogue. What a pity. But dialogue must always take place or at least be offered. This is useful for those who offer it,” he said.

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(Philip Polila reports)

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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