In a recent address to the United Nations (UN), Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, described land mines as “vile, murderous and useless.”

He criticized the use of land mines as a “wrong approach to security,” noting that “a large number of countries have realized that antipersonnel mines, besides their inhuman and devastating effects in the long run, are a useless arm. They give the illusion of an artificial security.” He suggested that the work towards the healing of populations devastated by conflict “is the best investment in building up true security and a durable peace.”

Archbishop Tomasi also emphasized the importance that the Holy See places on the Ottawa Convention, a United Nations agreement which bans the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines, and also encourages previous users of landmines to clear them.

Source: ZENIT

Land Mines Facts

  • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that 15,000-20,000 people are maimed or killed by landmines each year and that millions more suffer from the agricultural, economic, and psychological impact of the weapon.
  • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that there are more than 80 million landmines in the ground in more than 80 countries.
  • UNICEF estimates that 30-40 percent of mine victims are children under 15 years old.
  • The United States has 11 million APLs stockpiled, the third largest mine arsenal in the world.
  • The United States is one of only 14 countries that refuses to halt production of APLs.Source: United States Campaign to Ban Landmines

Discussion Questions
In what ways does the production and stock-piling of landmines stand in opposition to the “commitment to the universal common good” that Pope John Paul II often mentions?

Discuss the United States’ government production and use of landmines in conflict situations. What are the values underlying this “defense strategy?”

We are called to be peacemakers in the world. What are some ways in which we can address the issue of landmines?

Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Populorum Progressio, writes, “Peace cannot be limited to a mere absence of war, the result of an ever precarious balance of forces. No, peace is something that is built up day after day, in the pursuit of an order intended by God, which implies a more perfect form of justice among people” (#76). How does the work towards the healing of populations devastated by conflict correspond to Pope Paul VI’s definition of peace?