Secretary General of COMECE welcomes ‘Called to be Peacemakers’

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Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, Secretary General of the Commission of Catholic Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), has given an enthusiastic endorsement of “Called to be Peacemakers”, the new document published yesterday (22nd May) by the conference’s International Affairs department.

Father Prieto said the document has “an important message for peace and hope amid a worrying rearmament dynamic”.

The full statement is below.

The document Called to be Peacemakers, elaborated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, is an important message for peace and hope amid a worrying rearmament dynamic that we currently witness across Europe and the world. As Pope Francis exhorts us, even – and especially – in times of war, it is vital not to fall into a ‘logic of war’, but to think and act according to a ‘logic of peace’.

Based on the principles of Catholic social teaching, the CBCEW document reiterates that the reliance on disproportionate armaments and deterrence can offer only a false sense of security. The Catholic Church has been consistent in teaching that true and lasting peace among nations can only exist with mutual trust. And yet, the world seems to be currently trapped in a deception, believing that we can ensure security and peace by maintaining a state of fear and mistrust.

In the light of what seems to be a new global arms race with substantial increases in military spending and modernisation of arsenals of weapons, we can pose with Pope Francis the following question to European nations: “Where are you sailing, if you are not showing the world paths of peace, creative ways for bringing an end to the war in Ukraine and to the many other conflicts causing so much bloodshed?” […] Your technologies, which have brought progress and globalised the world are not by themselves sufficient, much less your highly sophisticated weapons, which do not represent investments for the future but a depletion of its authentic human capital: that of education, health, the welfare state. It is troubling when we read that in many places funds continue to be invested in arms rather than in the future of the young”.

The document of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales can serve as a powerful reminder to decision-makers in Europe and to the whole international community that peace is more than the absence of war and violence. Building lasting peace requires an integral approach with coherent efforts aimed at promoting human dignity, justice, human rights, the development of every person and of the whole person, as well as the care for Creation. Reducing peace to its security dimension only risks shifting our attention and resources away from situations that are less visible, but that account for numerous casualties every year, like extreme poverty, hunger, shortage of basic necessities, climate disasters and others.

As Pope Francis said to the Bishops of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) last year in March, the construction of peace needs both architects and artisans. Building lasting peace requires not only an architecture with pertinent policy frameworks and norms, but also a culture which is embraced, cherished and spread by each one of us.

I wish to congratulate the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for their commitment to promoting the cause of peace and for the long-standing excellent cooperation with COMECE, that we maintain even now after Brexit. It is my hope that the present publication may not only offer guidance and a framework for action to policymakers, even in the European Union, to advance nuclear disarmament, limit the proliferation of weapons, and adequately address the security, legal and ethical challenges of modern military technology, but that it may also be a source of inspiration and hope for all people of good will, as we are all “called to be peacemakers”.

Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto
Secretary General of COMECE
(Commission of Catholic Episcopal Conferences of the European Union)

To read the full document, click here.