LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Ahead of a major arms fair in London, Catholic leaders in the UK are calling for an end to the arms trade.
The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) takes place every two years in the British capital, and brings together members of the arms industry with government officials, military officers, and academics. This year’s event takes place Sept. 14-17.
Catholic leaders have objected to the event in an open letter, saying conflicts fueled by the arms trade “harm the poorest communities, force people to flee their homes as refugees, and have devastating consequences for our environment.”
The letter was signed by English bishops William Nolan and Paul McAleenan, Scottish bishop William Kenney, as well as the heads of the Scottish and English chapters of Pax Christi, the development agencies CAFOD and SCIAF, and the Caritas Social Action network.
In the letter, the signatories recall the message of Pope Francis: “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.”
The Catholic officials recognized the right of every country to defend itself against attack, but added, “we must never ignore, or allow ourselves to become complicit in, the destruction of human life and violations of human dignity made possible by the sale of weaponry.”
“The conflicts fueled by this trade harm the poorest communities, force people to flee their homes as refugees, and have devastating consequences for our environment. We stand alongside all those people of goodwill who are peacefully campaigning against the arms trade and join in prayer with the Holy Father that our leaders may commit themselves to ending it, in pursuit of peace and care for our whole human family,” the message says.
Last week, The Independent reported London mayor Sadiq Khan had written to the organizers of the event, asking them to “reconsider” holding it in the city, since it is “home to many people who have fled conflict and suffered as a consequence” of weapons “like those exhibited at DSEI.”
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