In a message to the Paris Forum on Peace, the pope painted a dire picture of a pre-coronavirus world dominated by corruption, war, and capitalistic oppression.

“The reality we knew before the pandemic was that wealth and economic growth were reserved for a minority while millions of people were unable to meet the most basic needs and lead a dignified life,” Francis said, “a world in which our Earth was plundered by a myopic exploitation of resources, by pollution, by ‘disposable’ consumerism, and wounded by wars and experiments with weapons of mass destruction.”

“Return to normal would also mean a return to old social structures inspired by self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism and isolation,” he added, “and excluding our poorest brothers and sisters. Is this a future we can choose?”

“In this globalized but torn world, the decisions we make today to get out of the crisis determine the ‘route’ of the generations to come,” he declared, and thus “we need a new way out” to “come out better than before.”

“Hope invites us to dream big and give space to the imagination for new possibilities,” he said. “Hope is bold and incentivizes action based on the knowledge that reality can be changed.”

Our conscience calls us “not to follow the easy way of returning to a ‘normality’ marked by injustice, but to accept the challenge of assuming the crisis as a concrete opportunity for conversion, transformation, to rethink our lifestyle and our economic and social system,” he said.

The pope’s vision for a new world begins with “a concrete collective commitment in favor of integral disarmament,” he noted.

“World military spending has now exceeded the level recorded at the end of the ‘cold war’ and is systematically increasing every year.”

The pontiff criticized arguments based on deterrence as “an abused idea” that in many cases “has been found to be fallacious, leading to major humanitarian tragedies.”

“It should also be emphasized that the logic of deterrence has been associated with the logic of the liberal market that armaments can be considered on a par with all other manufactured products and therefore, as freely marketable worldwide,” he warned. “It is therefore no coincidence that for years we have uncritically witnessed the expansion of the arms market globally.”

**By Thomas D Williams

**Source