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Speaking at a rally in Turin, Italy Sunday, Pope Francis articulated the . . . novel theory that those who manufacture weapons, or who invest in the manufacture of them, are "hypocrites" if they claim to be Christian. From Reuters:
But he wasn't done:
The rabidly anti-gun Coalition to Stop Gun Violence triumphantly shouted the Pope's assertion on Twitter and Facebook, where they took the opportunity to say, "It's time we all divest and cripple this immoral industry."
No mention is made of any attempt on his part to address the fact that people also kill without weapons, and that, indeed, without them, the frail, the weak, or the simply outnumbered are powerless to defend themselves against the depredations of those strong enough and brutal enough to take advantage.
Was it "un-Christian" of weapons manufacturers in the Allied countries to arm the forces that ended the Axis campaign of genocide? Actually, in the very same speech, he seems to contradict himself, criticizing the Allies for not bombing the rail lines by which the Nazis transported Jews to the death camps--but if no one were making bombs, as he seems to wish had been the case, how could they bomb them?
But perhaps more importantly, the world is of course not populated exclusively by people who consider themselves Christian (let alone Roman Catholic), and many would thus have no spiritual compulsion to divest themselves of weapons at the Pope's urging. Would Francis prefer to live in a world in which the only people who manufactured weapons sold them all to ISIS and Al Qaeda?
His criticism of those who invest in weapons manufacture is especially puzzling. Anyone, after all, who purchases a weapon could fairly be said to have invested in the manufacture of them. And as it turns out, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, who defend the Vatican and its most famous resident, are lavishly equipped with some pretty hefty investments in Sig-Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Steyr Mannlicher, and Glock semi-automatic handguns, personal defense weapons, assault rifles, and submachine guns, not to mention whomever manufactures the swords, halberds, and other more traditional weapons carried by his guards.
So, will the Vatican be melting all those guns and blades down, to be remanufactured into farming implements, or something similarly non-martial? If not, who is the real hypocrite here, Your Holiness?
A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.