President Obama's baby steps toward U.S. gun violence containment received some words of support from an unlikely source, the Vatican. In his weekly editorial, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Press Office of the Holy See, commented directly on Obama's proposals then broadened the discussion to include curtailing the global small arms trade, even nuclear weapns, but his unusual comment on the president's plan that stands out, especially as Lombardi appears to anticipate some of the usual N.R.A. rebuttals to any suggestion of gun control. Below is Vatican Radio's English translation of his Jan. 19 commentary:
The initiatives announced by the United States government in view of limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms are certainly a step in the right direction. It is estimated that Americans today possess about 300 million firearms. No one can be under the illusion that limiting their number and use would be enough to impede horrendous massacres in the future, such as the one in Newtown, which shook the conscience of Americans and of the world, of children and adults alike. But it would be much worse if we were to satisfy ourselves with only words. And if the massacres are carried out by people with mental illness or distorted by hate, there is no doubt that they are carried out with arms. Forty-seven religious leaders of various confessions and religions have issued a call to American politicians to limit firearms, which “are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths.” I’m with them.
But while American society is engaged in this debate of dutiful civil and moral growth, we cannot but widen our gaze to recall that arms, throughout the world, are also instruments for legitimate defense, but surely they are everywhere the main instruments used to bring threats, violence and death. Therefore, it is necessary to repeat tirelessly our calls for disarmament, to oppose the production, trade, and smuggling of arms of all types, fuelled by dishonourable interests for power or financial gain. If results are achieved, such as international conventions, the ban of landmines and other deadly arms, the reduction of the immense and disproportionate number of nuclear warheads…all the better! But weapons are and will always be too many. As the Pope said while travelling to Lebanon, we are all distraught by the massacres in Syria, but the weapons continue to arrive. Peace is born from the heart, but it will be easier to achieve if we have fewer weapons in hand.