War never brings relief to human lives, Pope Francis emphasized in a pontifical message to participants gathered at an international conference focused on peacemaking held at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

Rather than resolving conflicts, war brings “destruction, loss of humanity, intolerance, to the point of denying the possibility of looking to tomorrow with renewed confidence,” the pope stated.

The conference took place on May 11-12, one month following the 60th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem In Terris, published on April 11, 1963.

That document emphasized human rights – including the right to education, employment, religious freedom, freedom of speech, citizenship, and freedom of movement – the importance of individuals, groups and governments working together to advance the common good, and the necessity of abandoning the arms race to pursue lasting peace.

“There is a common belief that under modern conditions peace cannot be assured except on the basis of an equal balance of armaments and that this factor is the probable cause of this stockpiling of armaments. … Consequently, people are living in the grip of constant fear,” Pope John XXIII wrote. “Hence justice, right reason, and the recognition of man’s [sic] dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race.”

Little has changed in how nations relate to one another since Pacem In Terris, Pope Francis observed, which “shows how the selfishness of a few, and the ever-narrower interests of a number of individuals, lead us to think that we can find in weapons the solution to so many problems or new needs.”

The full pontifical address is available here.

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