Nations should divert money spent on weapons to education, said the Pope Francisco in an annual peace message, denouncing the rising military costs at the expense of social services.
In his message issued this Tuesday for the World Day of Peace of the Catholic Church, which takes place on January 1, Francisco also called for a better balance between a free market economy and the need to help those who have the least and protect the environment.
He devoted about a third of the four-page message to education, saying there had been a “significant reduction” in spending on education and training around the world, while military spending had risen beyond levels at the end of the Cold War and “it seems certain that it will grow exorbitantly.”
“It is time, then, for governments to develop economic policies aimed at investing the proportion of public funds that are spent on education and weapons,” he said in the message, which is sent to heads of state and international organizations.
“The search for a genuine process of international disarmament is beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources that are better used for medical care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land, etc.”, said the Pontiff.
The proportions of the military expenses and education differ from country to country, but positions on what to increase and what to cut often follow partisan lines.
Francis has called for disarmament, the prohibition of nuclear weapons and has said that military funds should also be diverted towards the fair distribution of vaccines for Covid-19 and research to prevent future pandemics.
“Despite numerous efforts aimed at constructive dialogue among nations, the deafening noise of war and conflict is intensifying. As diseases of pandemic proportions spread, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are worsening, the tragedy hunger and thirst is increasing, “he noted.