Pope Francis met with the winners of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize two weeks ago today at the Vatican.
Ahmet Üzümcü, the president of Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and former representative at the Turkish consulate in Aleppo, Turkey, had a brief audience with His Holiness, who has repeatedly condemned chemical weapons in recent weeks. “The international community must continue its efforts to eliminate them and to ensure that they can’t ever reemerge,” the Holy Father told Üzümcü, according to Vatican Radio.
The Vatican has long opposed the use of chemical weapons—the Apostolic Nuncio to The Hague serves as the Holy See’s permanent, official representative to the OPCW—but the ongoing crisis in Syria has intensified Pope Francis’ urgency in banning them in recent weeks. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said the audience with OPCW had been requested some time ago, “but the intensification of the Syrian crisis in light of the chemical weapons scare meant it could not have come at a better time.”
Pope Francis held a global vigil for peace in Syria on Sept. 7. “We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep,” he said. “We have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death.” He also took to Twitter:
With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons.—
Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 03, 2013