WORRIES OF WAR – Our dangerous world

– Carlos M Frota

Like many other world leaders, Pope Francis is concerned over the growing threat of “conflictual nationalism,” the prospect of a nuclear war and, in general, the widespread instability in international relations today.

But Francis’ worry is a bit different from other leaders, in the sense that  he sees the invisible presence  of God suffering for the way humans are speeding blindly towards a point where global peace is truly is not only  at risk, as it is today, but is definitively compromised. 

How? What are the signs of this disturbing trend?  They are all evident: the re-emergence of aggressive feelings against foreigners, especially immigrants, as well as a growing nationalism that neglects the common good, trends that compromise international cooperation, mutual respect and the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, the goals that aim to eradicate poverty and provide all peoples the basic conditions for human dignity.


Migration and conflictual nationalism were interlinked topics  at the center of the Holy Father’s words last week.

In the context of a dangerous world we are living in, Pope Francis addressed some 50 members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who  discussed the theme, “Nation, State, Nation-State,” during their plenary assembly on May 1-3.

The purpose of  Pope’s message was to  urge the members of the group of academics to help him spread the awareness of a renewed international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common good, respect for the planet and the supreme good of peace.

The Holy Father also expressed fears over the growing threat of nuclear confrontation that risks reversing the progress of the recent past and multiplies the risk of war.

Everybody says that we are living today in a new Cold War, characterized by a competition of world powers for world dominance. But contrary to spirit of the first Cold War, where rules of self containment were established to avoid the worst, nowadays some governments feel happy to destroy main international conventions which were able to avoid the nuclear nightmare.   


The Pope pointed out that the Church has always urged the love of one’s own people and country while respecting the various cultures, customs and habits of other peoples.  At the same time he has warned against deviations that result in excluding and hating others when it becomes “conflictual nationalism that raises walls, even racism or anti-Semitism.”

He noted that, too often, states are subservient to the interests of a dominant group, mostly for reasons of economic profit, which oppresses the ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities who are in their territory.

These same features of the international environment – can I add without error –  are palpable today very close to the Vatican, in the middle of the Italian society, where the far-right coalition was elected and is governing following an agenda of segregation and discrimination.

But not only Italy, or at least some circles of the  Italian society   are  suffering  from this deficit of human solidarity. Other European countries are following the same path, fueled by the  opportunism of politicians seeking power.

On the contrary, the Pope pointed out, “the way in which a nation welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and its relationship with humanity.”

He urged that a person or a family forced to leave their own land should be welcomed with humanity.  In this regard he repeated his four-verb formula of how to receive a migrant, namely: welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating.  

While stressing that the migrant is not a threat to the culture, customs and values of the host nation, the migrant also has a duty to integrate into the receiving nation, enriching the host while maintaining his identity.

Pope Francis pointed out that migration is a permanent feature of human history, and all nations are the result of the integration of successive waves of people or groups of migrants, who while being images of the diversity of humanity, are united by common values, cultural resources and healthy customs.

“A state that arouses the nationalistic feelings of its own people against other nations or groups of people would fail in its mission,” he warned, adding history proves where such deviations lead to.


Speaking about the nation-state, the Pope said it cannot be regarded as absolute – an island in relation to its surroundings and on its own; it alone cannot provide its people with the common good and meet the great contemporary challenges of climate change, new slavery and peace.

The cooperative vision among nations, the Pope said, requires the relaunching of multilateralism, which is opposed to new nationalistic impulses and hegemonic policy.

“Humanity would thus avoid the threat of recourse to armed conflicts whenever a dispute arises between nation-states, as well as evading the danger of economic and ideological colonization of the superpowers, avoiding the overwhelming of the strongest over the weakest, paying attention to the global dimension without losing sight of the local, national and regional dimensions.”

As opposed to a globalization that levels differences and suffocates localization and leads to the re-emergence of nationalism and hegemonic imperialism, the Pope called for a “multifaceted” form of globalization based on mutual recognition between the collective identity of each people, nation and globalization itself, which leads to a general state of peace and harmony.

The multilateral bodies, the Pope said, have been created in the hope of being able to replace the logic of revenge, domination, oppression and conflict with that of dialogue, mediation, compromise, harmony and the awareness of belonging to the same humanity in one common home.

On the other hand, there is a growing hegemony of powers and interest groups that impose their own visions and ideas, as well as new forms of ideological colonization, often disregarding the identity, customs and habits, dignity and sensitivity of the peoples concerned. The emergence of such tendencies is weakening the multilateral system, which results in a lack of credibility in international politics and a progressive marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations.

Pope Francis lamented that today the season of multilateral nuclear disarmament seems outdated and no longer stirs the political conscience of nations that possess atomic weapons. On the contrary, he said, a new season of worrying nuclear confrontation seems to be opening.  If the offensive and defensive nuclear arms will now be placed on earth and space, the Pope warned, the so-called new technical frontier will have raised and not lowered the danger of a nuclear holocaust.

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