ROME — As tensions between the United Sates and North Korea continue to rise, the Vatican’s former representative to the United Nations says that Pope Francis is closely following the situation, and that the only way forth is that of dialogue, because the way of conflict is always wrong.
“The way of conflict is always the wrong way,” said Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. “That’s why you need to invest time, energy, money, resources in preventing the necessity of arriving at these boiling points of crisis.”
The current crisis in North Korea, Tomasi said, shows how international relations can easily break down when there is a determination “to violate the minimum standard of common sense in dealing with other people.”
North Korea has recently threatened to launch four missiles into the sea off Guam, as a response to the escalating rhetoric of President Donald Trump.
Tomasi’s remarks came in two interviews with Vatican Radio’s Italian and English sections.
The situation in North Korea, he said, creates serious difficulties and tensions with South Korea, Japan, and China. The military presence of the U.S., he continued, “adds to the seriousness of the situation.”
Tomasi, who currently serves as an advisor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development, also said that everyone should be involved in the negotiations, working for the common good.
“The use of force would become less acceptable and less reasonable if there is this effort to facilitate the participation of everyone in the search for the common good,” the archbishop said.
If instead of violence, the path chosen is one of solidarity and political developments that benefit populations, “instead of building walls and creating dissidents or admitting the possibility of recourse to violence, something positive might result.”
Tomasi also said that it’s time to change public culture: The way forward does not mean to have the latest military technology, but “having an approach of inclusion and participation in building the common good of the global human family.”
The archbishop also applauded a recent UN convention banning atomic weapons signed by 123 nations.
Acknowledging that the countries that possess weapons of mass destruction see it as an “idealistic measure” — and did not sign the accord — it also means that there’s a global desire and expectation that the way of dealing with crisis is not with the threat of the use of force, but other, more peaceful means tied with development.
“One one side, we are walking toward a clearer understanding and on the other, we see that unfortunately some countries that have atomic weapons wish to keep them while others try and develop this military technology,” the archbishop said.
“We must renew public education and make it conscious of the very grave situation regarding the concrete possibility of using nuclear weapons,” which he said were “unacceptable” for any nation to possess.
“As Christians we must walk on the path toward peace and strengthen public education and the culture on the fact that one can defend himself from the nuclear menace only by completely eliminating atomic weapons,” he said.
Tomasi said that is is “very difficult” to bring together people to negotiate who have different mentalities and different political goals, but it must be done.
“We must not stop making effort to dialogue and try through alliances, through persuasion, to have these countries participate in the benefits of international trade, give them possibilities for concrete development for the good of their people, to feel like a concrete part of the human family so that they do not feel the need to entrench themselves behind the threat of the use of force,” he said.
“It’s an act of engagement to promote everything that is good and avoids confrontation through violent means,” Tomasi said.
Pope Francis spoke about the North Korean nuclear crisis during his flight back from Egypt last April.
At the time, the pope called on Trump and other world leaders to reinforce the press for a diplomatic solution to the mounting crisis, warning that a wider conflict could threaten “a good part of humanity.”
The pontiff also openly called on the United Nations to “resume its leadership” to help diffuse the situation, saying the UN’s role “has been a bit watered down.”
“I’ve called on [world leaders], and I will call on them, to work towards resolving the problems through the path of diplomacy,” Francis said, asked by journalists about the prospect raised by Trump at the time of a “major conflict.”
He suggested there are potential “facilitators in the world and intermediaries who could pursue negotiations,” suggesting, for instance, the nation of Norway.
“Certainly no one can accuse Norway of being a dictatorial country,” he said, emphasizing that “the right path is a diplomatic solution.”
As he’s done before, Francis spoke about a “third world war” being fought in piecemeal fashion, in various global conflict zones.
“Those pieces have arrived and they’re concentrated” on North Korea today, the pope said, adding that “it’s heated up too much.”
“For the future of humanity today, a wider war could destroy, perhaps not half of humanity, but a good part of humanity and its culture, everything,” Francis said, apparently thinking of the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon, South Korea, said: “The church should promote the culture of peace and life against the culture of death that is mounting on the Korean peninsula. We should defend our peace by praying for mercy and peace.”
The remarks were part of his message marking the anniversary of the August 15, 1945, liberation of the country from Japan, and were reported by ucanews.com.