Earlier this year, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD) joined with the Vatican COVID-19 Commission and the Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) of the SOAS University of London to co-host a webinar entitled “Advancing Integral Disarmament in Times of Pandemic.” The goal of this conference was to advance Pope Francis’ message on the theme of peace and disarmament but to do so in the context of COVID-19 by linking the issues of arms racing and military spending to the failure of public health authorities to address the pandemic adequately.
Building on Pope Francis’ call at the Plain of Ur in Iraq, the conference emphasized the urgent need to embrace the concept of “Integral Disarmament.” As Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin put it, this “means transforming instruments of hatred into instruments of peace…. It means rejecting the increasing proliferation of arms and accepting the promotion of the common good and the alleviation of poverty.”
Sounds good. But what, precisely, is “Integral Disarmament?” According to its advocates, integral disarmament can be defined in terms of four basic ideas. First, it is built on the premise that weapons—nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional—by their very nature produce evils and disorders that are always greater than the evil they are meant to defend against. Second, the Integral Disarmament rests on the assumption that merely possessing weapons is immoral because, as long as such weapons exist, they might be used.