Holy See welcomes U.S. gun control push

(Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)A Swiss guard stands before Pope Benedict XVI arrives for his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) address from a balcony in St. Peter's Square in Vatican December 25, 2012.

The spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church's central government in the Vatican City says measures announced by the U.S. government to limit and control the spread the use of arms are "certainly a step in the right direction."

Fr. Frederico Lombardi, director of the Press Office of the Holy See, cautioned in an editorial for Vatican Radio translated into English that the move may not have a big impact. Last week President Barack Obama proposed that Congress pass laws that would restore a ban on new "military-style assault weapons," while requiring background checks on all gun sales, among other measures.

"No one can be under the illusion that limiting their number and use would be enough to impede horrendous massacres in the future, such as the one in Newtown, which shook the conscience of Americans and of the world, of children and adults alike," he said. "But it would be much worse if we were to satisfy ourselves with only words."

Fr. Lombardi said he agreed with a coalition of forty-seven religious leaders who recently called for the public to support legislation that would reinstate a ban on assault weapons and other measures meant to reduce violence with guns.

"I'm with them," he said.

Fr. Lombardi said arms "are also instruments for legitimate defense" even though they were also used for bringing threats, violence and death.

He made a broader call for reduction in many types of weapons.

"[I]t is necessary to repeat tirelessly our calls for disarmament, to oppose the production, trade and smuggling of arms of all types, fueled by dishonorable interests for power or financial gain," he said.

He said if many of the global efforts to agreements and legislation to band weapons such as landmines or nuclear warheads "all the better.

"But weapons are and will always be too many. As the Pope said while travelling to Lebanon, we are all distraught by the massacres in Syria, but the weapons continue to arrive. Peace is born from the heart, but it will be easier to achieve if we have fewer weapons in hand," he concluded.

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