Pope Francis on Thursday gently scolded Congress on a variety of issues, from immigration to foreign policy, but on one unexpected topic — the weapons sales that fuel armed conflicts around the world — he couldn’t have been much more blunt.
He was speaking about his determination “to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world,” when he said this:
Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Those were fighting words, especially given where he spoke them. The U.S. is by far the largest arms supplier in the world, with domestic manufacturers selling more than $23.7 billion in weapons in 2014 to nearly 100 different countries. During the Obama administration, weapons sales have surged to record levels, in large part due to huge shipments to Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia.