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Pope Francis: ‘Arms manufacturers are merchants of death’

By on Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pope Francis denounced those responsible for human trafficking, slave labour and arms manufacturing during his general audience earlier today.

The Pope told the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square that people producing weapons of war are “merchants of death”.

“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.

The Pope also launched an appeal to the international community to help safeguard children from forced labour, highlighting the plight of an estimated 160 million child workers worldwide.

Holding up a bright red leaflet, which had, in Italian, “All together against child labour” written on it, the Pope asked the world community to help “eradicate this scourge”.

The leaflet was part of the International Labour Organisation’s #RedCard campaign, urging people to “blow the whistle,” like a referee on a football field, and give a “red card” to those exploiting children.

Speaking at the end of his audience talk, the Pope said that tomorrow (June 12) is World Day Against Child Labour — a day meant to call attention to the millions of children forced to work in degrading conditions, “exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, as well as abuse, maltreatment and discrimination”.

He called on everyone, especially families, to do all they could to safeguard “the dignity and possibility of a healthy upbringing” of all children so they could look to the future with hope.

During his main address, the Pope wrapped up his series of audience talks about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The Pope dedicated his catechesis to the last of the gifts.

He said fear of the Lord isn’t about being afraid; it’s recognising “how small we are before God” and his immense capacity to love and forgive.

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