Pope Francis deplores the increase in the use of weapons

Pope Francis lamented that the use of weapons by civilians in self-defense was becoming a “habit”.

In an exclusive Tuesday interview with The Associated Press, the Pope, who has frequently criticized the defense industry, was asked about the large number of civilian hands in arms and the frequent massacres in the United States. Francis expressed concern at how resorting to guns has become a “habit”.

“I’m saying if you have to defend yourself, all you have to do is have the elements to defend yourself. Another thing is how the need to defend yourself lengthens, lengthens and becomes a habit,” Francis said. “Instead of making efforts to help ourselves live, we strive to help ourselves kill.”

Ettor Russo

FILE – Ettore Russo fires his handgun at an indoor shooting range on Friday, July 1, 2022 during a qualification course at the Placer Sporting Club in Roseville, Calif. to renew his carry concealed handgun permit. In an interview with The Associated Press, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that the defense industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with guns,” he added. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

Francis has denounced the arms industry as trafficking in human beings with death. Francis said he wanted to draw attention to the issue by saying, “Please, let’s say something that will stop this.”

The AP questioned the proliferation of guns among civilians after several shootings have taken place in recent days, including in California.

Here are some other key takeaways from the interview.

ON “PATIENCE” WITH CHINA

Pope Francis says “we must walk patiently in China” and sees continued dialogue with Beijing as a guiding principle in his efforts to protect his flock, a small minority in the Asian nation.

The AP asked what’s next in the diplomatic overtures between the countries.

“We’re taking steps,” Francis replied. “Every case (of a bishop’s appointment) is looked at with a magnifying glass.” “That’s the main thing, the dialogue doesn’t break off,” added the Pope.

As for the Chinese authorities, “sometimes they’re a little closed, sometimes they’re not,” Francis said.

The pope dodged a question about how the Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan affects the dialogue. The Holy See is one of the few countries that has formal relations with Taiwan rather than China.

Francis has been criticized by more conservative factions of the Catholic Church for a 2018 deal with Beijing on appointing bishops in China, given that country’s communist authorities have at times jailed priests. Among his harshest critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.

In the interview, Francis called the 91-year-old Zen a “charming old man” and a “tender soul.” He told how the pope, when the cardinal attended the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI this month. came to Rome, invited him to the Vatican Hotel where Francis lives. In front of the Pope’s private study is a statue depicting Our Lady of Sheshan. Francis said that when the cardinal saw it, “he began to cry like a child.”

Zen was arrested last year after a run-in with Hong Kong authorities over his participation in a now-silenced pro-democracy movement.

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ABOUT GAY

Pope Francis has stepped up his criticism of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. He called laws criminalizing homosexuals unjust, but reiterated the Catholic Church’s teaching that homosexual activity is sinful.

“Being gay is not a crime. It’s not a crime. Yes it is a sin. Well yes, but first let’s distinguish between sin and crime,” he said.

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ON PONTIFICAL HEALTH AND RETIREMENT

The 86-year-old Pope was asked to assess his health.

“I am in good health. I’m normal for my age. I could die tomorrow, but I’ve got myself under control. I always ask for the grace the Lord will give me, a sense of humor,” he said.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was the first pope to resign in 600 years. After Benedict’s death, Francis was also asked about the need for rules on future retirements.

“After a little more experience … it might be more regulated or regulated,” he said. “But it just didn’t occur to me at the moment.”

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