Answering journalists on his way back from Riga to Rome, His Holiness also took the time to address the issue of the massive military investment in the world, calling it “scandalous,” but also defended the right of a country to protect itself.
“Today global arms sales are scandalous,” the pope said. “It’s terrible. The weapons industry and the black market of weapons is one of the greatest corruptions.”
“Before this issue there is the logic of defense,” Francis said, and he cited how the Biblical figure of David was able to defend himself from Goliath with just a rock and a slingshot.
“But today there are no Davids, and I think that to be safe a country must have a reasonable and non-aggressive defense army. This way the defense is honorable, and it’s an honor to defend the homeland this way.”
The pope mentioned the many frontier wars that continue to lacerate and destroy countries everywhere, especially in Africa. “The arms industry today is scandalous before a starving world,” the pope reiterated.
The question of immigration was also addressed by the pontiff, who said that the heads of state of the three countries all brought it up, often citing themes of welcoming and openness.
Francis offered words of caution, stressing that immigration must be looked at case-by-case.
“The theme of immigration in the entire world, not just external immigration but also internal immigration within continents is a serious issue and must be studied. In every country, place and area it has a different connotation.”
Ecumenism, an important theme of the visit, was also discussed by the pontiff who remarked on the widespread peaceful coexistence between the various Churches. “There is a true ecumenism between Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans and even Orthodox,” the pope said. “It’s a great thing. Brothers, close, one Church.”
The strength and communion of the faiths in Baltics states, he said, is born form the suffering and persecution they endured. While in Lithuania, Francis visited a museum commemorating those killed and tortured by KGB officials because of their ideas or faith and lay flowers on a monument commemorating the genocide of Jews that occurred under Nazi occupation.
“That day, I tell you the truth, I was struck,” the pope admitted. “It made me think about cruelty. And I tell you with the information we have today that cruelty is not over. The same cruelty today can be found in many detention centers. So are many prisons, where overpopulation becomes a form of torture.”
“This is a scandal, a grave scandal of our society,” he added.