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Vatican’s chief diplomat expresses concerns over AUKUS nuclear sub deal

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ROME – According to the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See is worried by the announced military collaboration between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia giving the latter submarines with nuclear technology.

“The Holy See is against rearmament and all the efforts that have been made and are being made are in the sense of the elimination of nuclear weapons because they are not the way to maintain peace and security in the world, they create even more dangers for peace and even more conflict,” he told a group of reporters that approached him on the sidelines of the meeting of the the European’s People’s Party (EPP) in Rome.

“Within this vision that has always characterized the Holy See,” Parolin said, “one cannot but be concerned,” over the deal, part of the new AUKUS partnership.

The partnership in the Indo-Pacific launched by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to counter China’s presence in the region has been presented as an opportunity to develop joint efforts and technology sharing, as well as integrating security and defense-related technology. However, the first initiative under AUKUS will be to support the Australian Navy acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, the consequences of which might affect the non-proliferation regime, even though the submarines will not carry nuclear weapons.

The EPP Group is the largest and oldest group in the European Parliament, self-defined as a center-right movement committed to building a stronger Europe at the service of its citizens. A transnational organization, it’s composed of political parties with Christian Democratic and conservative identities.

Parolin also addressed the comments made by Pope Francis to a group of Jesuits Sept. 13, during his trip to Slovakia, where he said that he’s still alive, “despite the fact that some wanted me dead.”

In his remarks, Parolin said he was unaware of this opposition to the pontiff.

“Probably the pope has information that I don’t have because I honestly hadn’t realized that there was this climate,” the cardinal told reporters, saying that he never sensed the “tense atmosphere” that was evidenced in Francis’ remarks to the Jesuits, published on Monday by La Civiltà Cattolica, an influential Jesuit-ran magazine.

“I think, without having many elements in my hand, that it is a matter of a few people, of someone who has put these things in his head,” Parolin said, “but honestly I have no elements.”

“The pope probably makes these statements because he has knowledge and data that I have not received,” the cardinal added, insisting that he does not feel “that there is a climate of this kind.”

Explaining his presence at the partisan meeting – that also saw Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the European conference of Catholic bishops (COMECE), and Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development attending Tuesday’s morning session – Parolin said that the day was dedicated “to listening to the Church,” and also because, “while not identifying with Christianity in total, on the part of the EPP there is a particular attention to Christianity. Many exponents explicitly refer to Christian principles.”

Speaking about Christianity, he said that one does not get to choose what they like or what they find to be more convenient, because being a Christian is not like “going to the supermarket and getting this and that.”

He also warned against the risk of instrumentalizing and manipulating religion “for political purposes.”

“It is important to make a global choice: In Christianity one does not choose what one likes or what is most convenient, in Christianity one must accept everything,” Parolin told reporters. “And so, part of Christianity is both the defense of life – in all its phases from the beginning of natural conception until natural death- and love your neighbor, that manifests itself as attention to the phenomenon of migration, applying those four verbs that the pope always indicates to us: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”

Hollerich was tasked with delivering the session’s opening remarks, and he spoke of the “perspective” Francis, a son of Italians who was born and raised in Argentina, has for Europe.

The Luxembourg prelate referred to a letter that the pope sent to CEMECE for its 40th anniversary, in which he spoke of his “dreams for Europe.”

“I find this concept very powerful,” Hollerich noted, because “it has to do with the future. Dreaming is different from having an illusion or, worse, a delusion; a true dream directs us toward a better future and gives us energy and guidance to realize it.”

It is in this “perspective” that “Pope Francis dreams of a Europe ‘friendly to all’ and respectful of the intrinsic dignity of every human person. He dreams of a Europe ‘that is family and community’, capable of living in unity and treasuring differences. He also dreams of a Europe ‘inclusive and generous, welcoming and hospitable, faithful to the virtue of charity and the principle of solidarity. And Pope Francis dreams of a Europe “marked by a healthy secularity, where God and Caesar remain distinct but not opposed; a land open to transcendence.”

“As Christians and members of the Church, each of us, according to our specific mission and calling, must serve as a leaven to revive the consciousness of Europe, and generate processes that lead to the future we dream of for our continent,” Hollerich said.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma

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