Pope Francis, speaking to the general public, called on all nations to act for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Holy Father’s plea comes two days before the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The agreement is the first legally binding international treaty that prohibits signatory states from developing, testing, producing, stockpiling, placing, transferring, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

Referring to the total destruction of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis said that these weapons “hit large numbers of people in a short time and cause long-term environmental damage”.

Francis also encouraged all nations and peoples to “act decisively to promote the conditions necessary for a world free of nuclear weapons. The best way to do so is to contribute to the development of the peace and multilateral cooperation so desperately needed by humanity.”

The Vatican was the first country to sign and ratify the Treaty on Nuclear Weapons. It was signed by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for State Relations, at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017, the first day the treaty was opened for signature.

It reached the 50 signatures required at the end of October 2020, and will go into effect next Friday, January 22, 2021.

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